An Exceptional Leather Bridgewater Armchair Attributed To Howard & Sons


An absolutely stunning exceptional leather armchair attributed to Howard & Sons. This statement chair screams quality and is identical in design and size to the sought after Bridgewater armchair designed & manufactured by the “Rolls Royce” of furniture makers Howard & Sons. Soft supple worn dark brown leather, ceramic Cope & Collinson castors, (favoured by Howard & Sons). We cannot find another example of this quality on the market place a true collectors piece of statement furniture. We have looked all over this fine piece of furniture and without ripping the upholstery off can only see to underside and area where paper label may have been. No defined makers stamp, however from our knowledge and experience there can only be one maker and that is Howard & Sons. 

Howard & Sons had relatively humble beginnings, founded by John Howard in 1820 who advertised his services as a ‘Cabinet Manufacturer’ located at 24, Leman Street, London. Howard remained at the premises for almost a decade before being joined by his son, George, and moving to other locations in the city while opening a showroom on Red Lion Street in Holborn.

In 1848, they moved to 22, Berners Street, off Oxford Street, which was to become their most notable address. By this time, John Howard & Sons was offering its services as ‘Cabinet Maker, Upholsterer and Decorator’, and benefiting from innovative designs and the employment of modern techniques in construction.

The business started to flourish, demanding additional workshop space in nearby Tottenham Street, Fitzroy Square and Charlotte Mews, alongside the occupancy of a further building on Berners Street.

The next half-century saw Howard & Sons continue to go from strength to strength, gaining recognition in the form of gold and silver prizes at a variety of events at home and across Europe, including the 1862 Crystal Palace Exhibition for its library furniture, the Exposition Universelle in Paris and the Exposition Internationale d’Anvers in Antwerp, culminating in the award of a Royal Warrant in 1901 (even today, the Queen is said to have a large number of pieces by Howard & Sons in various homes).

The warrant allowed them to supply royal residences with upholstered furniture, alongside other grand venues such as The Savoy Hotel. They also collaborated with Gillows, which was seen as leading cabinetmakers in Victorian England.

By the mid-1850s it was George Howard that was increasingly steering the company’s fortunes. In 1865 he gained a patent for a process to use a wooden veneer on interior walls rather than wallpaper or paint. He then adapted the method for flooring, taking out a patent in 1867 for parquet flooring.

But then, as now, it was for the deep-seated loungers armchairs, sofas and chaise longues, for which the company was most well known. In this George was instrumental in laying the foundations for their long-term renown, patenting a design for a ground-breaking ‘elastic seat’ in 1866.

He used coil springs in the seat which allowed greater movement in all directions: up and down, left and right, marking a step-change from more traditional upholstery. Just as inventive was the ‘siege de duvet’, which involved a feather and down-filled pillow held in place with fixings to the frame, and supported underneath by horsehair and under-springing.

The robust construction techniques used in the furniture also sets it apart (evidenced by the survival of so many pieces today), and gave the company an advantage over their contemporaries.

The use of tenon machinery for the joints kept the cost of manufacturing competitive, and details like chamfered edges along the wooden railings reduced the amount of wear on fabrics over time.

Indeed, the furniture was so well designed pieces still appear with their original ‘H&S’ monogrammed ticking in cream and blue – the result of the original two-tone green fading over time.

The design of the furniture’s legs also changed over time, with the predominant and earlier turned leg shape giving way to a more modern, tapered style.

The inside of the rear legs often features the maker’s name or number stamped on the wood or on the brass castors. Alternatively, a piece may have an ivorine label or paper label sewn into the hessian. Alongside ‘Howard & Sons’ details may also include the business address, such as ‘Berners Street’, which can help to date the period along with the use of Cope & Collinson ceramic castors.

By 1935, Howards & Sons was trading from 31 Old Burlington Street, but it eventually ceased to be a family business when it was taken over by the decorating firm, Lenygon & Morant in 1947, which continued to trade as ‘Lenygon & Morant makers of Howard furniture’.

Today, the company is once again run as a family-owned business, Howard Chairs Ltd, making individual, handmade furniture at its London workshop to many of the original designs.

86cm full height x 90cm depth x 80cm width. Height to seat 37cm x depth of seat 60cm x width of seat to inner arms 50cm.

 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.