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Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840. Originally published by W.S. Maney and Son Limited, Leeds, 1986.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Furniture History Society. All rights reserved.



From its foundation in 1964 the main concern of the Furniture History Society has been the publication of original research in its field, and its annual Journal has built up a high reputation over the years. Special issues such as Dr P. Eames's Medieval Furniture (1977) and Mr F. Bamford's Dictionary of Edinburgh Furniture Makers (1983) have surveyed important areas of study. The Hardwick Hall and Ham House inventories (1971 and 1980 respectively) and the facsimile of the Cabinet-Makers’ London Book of Prices 1793, which the Society published in 1982, are good examples of its intention to make important source material available to scholars.

All this has been good work, of credit to the Society and especially to its Honorary Editors. There is no doubt, however, that the most important project yet undertaken by the Society is the Dictionary of furniture makers active in England in the years 1660–1840 and we have indeed been fortunate in having Dr Geoffrey Beard and Mr Christopher Gilbert as joint-editors. They were, each for ten years, the first and second editors of the Society's Journal and laid the foundations of its success. In the present work they planned and set going the system of regional research and then, with the help of three assistant editors, controlled the mass of information coming in as a result and imposed upon it their editorial discipline.

A special feature of the programme of research has been the large number of volunteers, members of the society and others, who have given to it their time and labour over this long period. Several hundreds of people have been involved in divers places under the supervision of some twenty-five regional organizers. Many have undertaken with ready enthusiasm tedious and repetitious tasks such as searching through long runs of trade directories, insurance registers, newspapers and periodical literature. Invaluable work has been done by members of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies. Others have worked at record offices and libraries and on collections of private records often travelling far to do so. The Society has conferred life membership on Arthur Bond, C.B.E. who freely gave many hours to the sorting and arranging of the blue record-cards which comprised the master index. Angela Evans and Brian Austen worked devotedly on converting the accumulated data into typescript and at proof reading. About ninety commissioned articles on notable furniture makers have been written by some thirty members, all expert in their subject.

As in every project finance has been a matter of concern, but the Society's Officers and other members of the Council have had good success in approaches to individuals and to charitable bodies for support.

The general impression, therefore, is of time and work and funds freely given by many people. But in recalling the help of all who have made the Dictionary a reality one's thoughts return inevitably to our two Editors. In their dedication to the planning of the work and in the determination to see the Dictionary successfully launched they have been the moving force behind all our effort. We offer them our admiration and thanks.

T. L. Ingram,