A Brief History of Chippendale and Office Furniture

A Brief History of Chippendale and Office Furniture

Thomas Chippendale is most well known as a famous London cabinet maker. He was actually born in Yorkshire about 1718 and died in London in 1779.

Early Life and Career

His father was a Yorkshire carpenter. Thomas an only child. There are no known details of his early career although it is generally accepted he began working with his father.

By 1748, at around the age of 30, he had moved to London and set up as a cabinet-maker.

The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director

Thomas Chippendale came into prominence after publishing ‘The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director’ in 1754. This was essentially a pattern book including designs in the Gothic, Chinese and French Rococo style. It was the first of its kind and the publicity brought Chippendale many lucrative commissions.

By 1755 Chippendale had a workforce of some 40 odd artisans. This included cabinet-makers, wood carvers and upholsterers. His company supplied a wide range of furnishings.

The Director publication was thereafter used by many cabinet makers around the world. Many pieces are recognised as Chippendale. However, this often refers to the style and does not indicate the furniture was made by Thomas Chippendale himself. In his latter life, within his own company, his workforce made the majority of furniture.

History of Chippendale and Office Furniture

And so to a brief history of Chippendale and office furniture. As previously mentioned, Chippendale did not only make cabinets.

A few years back a family-run solicitors office in the North of England decided after 80 years an update in their interior was necessary. Imagine their surprise when an old battered mahogany desk turned out to be a genuine Chippendale. The auction hammer finally fell to a grand total of £97,000. Estimated price after renovation was expected to be in the region of a quarter of a million!

You never know if you can hang around for 250 years that office desk you are sitting at could be worth considerably more!

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