Rare Pair Of Antique Hand Carved Walnut “Jas Shoolbred” Armchairs As Featured In The 1881 Furniture Gazette & Featured At The Powerhouse Collection Sydney & Other Major Institutions Price Per Armchair


A rare matching pair of hand carved antique walnut “Jas Shoolbred” arm chairs. Miraculously this pair have managed to stay together since inception in 1881. Exceptional quality, hand punched walnut back rests with acanthus leaf motif, hand turned ring legs with ceramic castors and stamped Shoolbred brass insets. Decorative turned finials and turned arm rests. Sprung bases giving added comfort and covered in neutral grey upholstery. Ivorine makers labels to underside of chairs.

This beautiful set/design featured at The Exhibition of Works of Art held at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1881 and also in the esteemed 1881 edition of the Furniture Gazette which advertised the top cabinet makers and retailers of the day. 

Shoolbred furniture was displayed in a series of catalogues that the company produced every year and they exhibited at the 1853 New York Exhibition and also at the 1874 London International Exhibition. Shoolbred was awarded a Royal Warrant in 1855.

At the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial exhibition they had the biggest stand in the British section, with six rooms complete with carpets and wall hangings. Shoolbred was awarded a medal for its furniture at this Exhibition and the collection is now at the Powerhouse Collection, Sydney. Their furniture was deemed the best quality of the period and the firm won many awards for their designs and cabinet making.

By 1881 the firm had a frontage of 250ft on Tottenham Court Road with a depth of 300 ft, covering just under 1 ¾ acres. There were seventy counting house staff and 1,800-2,000 employees spread across the main building and seven other premises within easy reach of Tottenham Court Road. 

The Furniture Gazette, 8 January 1881, gives a description of the carpet, upholstery & bedding, cabinet departments and mentions that electricity had been installed. Carpet-making took place above the stables, which housed sixty-three vans and 126 horses, in Torrington Place. Cabinet making and turning took place in Midford Place and another factory in Ogle Street housed the finishing workshops for cabinet work and upholstery, two floors housed workshops for the restoration of furniture and the basement housed the wine & spirits store. The blind factory was housed in Tottenham House and there was a furniture repository in Euston Road. 

800 employees attended the ‘Shoolbred & Co. at dinner’ each day which was held ‘in cheerful and well-ventilated rooms’.  Meat consumption at these dinners averaged 800-1000 lb, 5cwt potatoes & 150 quartern loaves. The young female employees had a large, well furnished apartment equipped with a piano, where they spent their evenings, whilst the men had similar and there were also two libraries. Shoolbreds contributed sixty men to the Queen’s Westminster Rifles Corps and there was an ‘in house’ brass band. Musical, athletics, rowing and football groups as well as a literary and dramatic club, and debating society were all organised for employees to improve ‘the quickening of their intellectual powers’.  A powerhouse of design and productivity outpacing Selfridges who were still finding their feet! 

Shoolbred furniture is highly prized/collected and not only beautiful furniture aesthetically but still to this day practical and functional furniture, which stands testament to the high quality craftsmanship from many years ago.

For sale as a set or as individual chairs. The perfect lounge/fireside/reading armchairs and the ideal bedroom, bathroom, dining, hallway side chairs. Listed here as a set and listed individually as follows.

X 2 Armchairs £450 each.

X 4 Side/Dining chairs £175 each.

Set £1,500.

Frames all solid on all chairs, well sprung with no defects to sprung bases. Upholstery fair order for age, some minor marks.

As a genuine antique / vintage item there is wear and use commensurate with age.  Some wooden products may have signs of historic woodworm. As a precaution we apply a clear triple action woodworm treatment that also kills wet rot, dry rot and woodworm. Please look at all the images carefully and ask any questions pre purchase as we do not unfortunately offer refunds due to the size and shipping costs of our antiques/items.  All our items are available on line at Search & Rescued and other online stores.