George III Inlaid Mahogany Secretaire Bookcase


Circa 1785

A superb quality George III Inlaid Mahogany Secretaire Bookcase attributed to cabinet maker George Speer and a Hepplewhite Design.

Height 93”, 236 cms, Width: 50”, 127 cms, Depth: 23”, 58.5 cms.

A truly exceptional George III Period Mahogany Library Secretaire Bookcase. The moulded cornice with a dentil above a crossbanded tear drop frieze with ebony drops . The two doors to the upper part separated by a beaded brass astragal and having Gothic-arch oval astragal glazing bars to the original glass and opening onto adjustable shelves, the base fitted with a fall front hinged secretaire drawer having a gilt tooled leather writing surface and an arrangement of small drawers around a central feature and with three further full width drawers below all retaining the original brass ring handles, the whole raised on elegant splayed bracket feet united by a shaped apron.

The central secretaire feature with the concave step is a feature of designs by George Hepplewhite published posthumously by his widow “The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide” in 1788, 1789 and 1794 see Plate 44 and plate 68.(3rd. Edition).

The whole piece is crossbanded in Rosewood with Ebony and Boxwood line inlay throughout. The outstanding quality of this exciting piece suggests one of the very best makers and is reminiscent of the work of George Speer.

Speer, George, ‘The Seven Stars’, 2 Gt Tower St, London, cm and u (b.1736–d. 1802). Free of the London Upholders’ Co., 6 March 1771 under the terms of the 1750 Upholders’ Act. Does not appear in London directories until 1777. His trade card states that he made and sold ‘Desks & Book Cases, Chests of Drawers, Poureaus & all Sorts of Looking Glass frames. Also Venetian, Spring & all other sorts of Window Blinds, Mahogany, Walnut-tree & other Chairs Breakfast, Dining & Card Tables, Tea Chests, Tea Boards, Waiters &c.’. He also sold carpeting and floor cloth, appraised goods and undertook funerals. Initially, he may have been associated with John Speer his cousin, who traded for part of the time at the same address as a joiner and cm. The Rococo frames of the trade cards of these two makers are identical. George Speer died in 1802 though his name appears in Sheraton’s Cabinet Dictionary, 1803 in the list of master cabinet makers. It is possible that his son, George jnr continued the business.

A bureau cabinet obtained by the V&A Museum in 1980 is believed to have been supplied by George Speer on 30 September 1761 though the original invoice is no longer traceable. This piece of furniture does, however, closely resemble a number of drawings by George Speer which were reproduced in an article by Anthony Coleridge in Apollo. A mahogany kneehole desk and a secretaire bookcase with glazed doors are also known with George Speer’s trade label attached (Figs 35–36). [D; V&A archives; Apollo, October 1970, pp. 274–83, May 1972, p. 419; Sotheby’s, 1 February 1980, lot 128]

Delivery in the UK mainland is included in the marked price.

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