|Secretaire Bookcase 1814|
Morgan & Sanders, of Nos. 16 & 17 Catherine Street, Strand, London, made and sold patent furniture that was often featured in Ackermann’s Repository. The globe desk I showed last month is an example.
Readers weighed in about the practicality as well as aesthetics of the item, which made me acutely conscious of the distance between the image and the actuality. This gap is clear when I show fashion plates. Rather like fashion sketches today, they’re stylized images, which often make clothing seem stiff and bizarre.
I think the furniture suffers worse in the illustrations. In both cases, I assume this happens partly because these kinds of engravings did not allow the artist the flexibility that paint did, but also because artists lacked the necessary skills and/or time. While Ackermann’s was an expensive magazine, the illustrations are not all of the same quality, and furniture seems to suffer worst.
In any case, I invite you to compare the magazine illustration with a version of one of these globe desks—this time not literally a globe, but global in form—as presented on the site 1stdibs. While this object may not appear any more comfortable a place to write, it doesn’t look as much like a strange object from outer space, and I think we can understand a little better why the Princess Augusta would buy it.
In the same spirit, I offer for your contemplation Morgan & Sanders’s “Secretaire Bookcase.” While I couldn’t find a version of the piece online, I did find some similar objects for compare and contrast exercise, here & here.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it. Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.