Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fashionable Bookcase for March 1814

Thursday, March 17, 2016
Secretaire Bookcase 1814
Loretta reports:

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.
Bookcase description

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.


Regencyresearcher said...

Looks like a good place to keep supplies or tidy things away but not comfortable to use for writing. Reminds me of my so called computer hutch-- though the hutch doesn't have as many drawers. I find it an uncomfortable place to write and blame it for my lack of productivity . It is a convenient place to store some things and too heavy to move . I am afraid that writing desk would be awkward for anything except storage. As for the globe desk or cabinet --- I usually end up using multipurpose things for one purpose

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