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‘Incredibly rare’ piece by York’s forgotten furniture maker turns up for sale at Harrogate Convention Centre

Harrogate Convention Centre

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A PLEA has gone out to find a local buyer for a rare piece of furniture from York’s past as a centre of cabinet making excellence.

The 18thcentury ‘kneehole’ desk is understood to have been made in the 1750’s by George Lambert, who had a workshop in Spurriergate at the time. The period saw York gain a reputation as a significant British furniture producing city, however little is now known of the era and examples which can be attributed with confidence are rare.

Andrew Cox-Whittaker, of Knaresborough-based furniture restorer TL Phelps, has the desk on display this weekend at The Northern Antiques Fair in Harrogate, where he hopes to find a buyer to keep the rare piece in York.

He said: “The thing about York is that it had a great cabinet-making history. Chippendale is believed to have been an apprentice in the city but we don’t know a lot about what was made and what went on at the time.

“There is a very famous book called the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660 to 1840, which was edited in the 1980s by a great furniture historian called Christopher Gilbert. One of his bugbears was that he was never able to find furniture by identifiable York makers.”

While referred to as a desk, it is believed the piece is likely to have been used as a small dressing table. Although a handful of pieces with maker stamps from York are known to exist, dating from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the one currently on sale this weekend at Harrogate Convention Centre includes the mark of Lambert and York.

George Lambert is known to have worked in the city from 1739 to 1756, making the piece datable to that period. Mr Cox-Whittaker said that because the provenance of the piece could be traced to a specific York maker, it made the desk ‘incredibly rare’.

He added: “I would love to see this piece returned to York because that’s where it belongs. If it was to leave the region it could be decades before it appears on the market again – that’s if it appears on the market ever again.”

The kneehole desk will be at the Northern Antiques Fair at Harrogate Convention Centre, from Friday October 5 to Sunday October 7, with a sale price of £3250. The seller is TL Phelps Fine Furniture Restoration, which is based in Knaresborough.

Enquiries to phelps@furnitureconservation.org

Tim Phelps of  TL Phelps Fine Furniture Restoration, at Harrogate Convention Centre, with the cabinet
Tim Phelps of TL Phelps Fine Furniture Restoration, at Harrogate Convention Centre, with the cabinet
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