Manuscript Order thumbnail 1
Manuscript Order thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Furniture, Room 133, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery

Manuscript Order

1790s (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

From the 1790s through the first 20 years of the 19th century, the finest and most expensive printed furnishings were polychrome woodblock-printed cottons, the technique used on the samples here. These fabrics appear to have been chosen for both bed hangings and window curtains; in this period it was particularly fashionable for the different furnishings used in a room, including window curtains and upholstery fabric, to match or complement each other.

This document is likely to have been an estimate for the furnishings of a house; it bears the client's name, Mr Robinson of Winchmore Hill, but not that of the upholsterer who drew it up. Winchmore Hill is to the north of London, still a village in the late 18th century, but experiencing much new building from the 1770s. Woodblock printed cottons had widespread popularity in the period, and would have been considered particularly suitable for furnishing villas and genteel cottages, where more elaborate or heavier materials could have been obtrusive .


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Paper, hand-written in ink, block-printed cotton
Brief Description
Paper manuscript order with samples of block-printed cotton, England, 1790s
Physical Description
Four page manuscript order with handwritten estimates for furnishing for a house. Paper with textile samples attached of block-printed cotton.



In the form of a large sheet of paper folded in half to be written on one outer and two inner sides, then folded down twice further to form a packet with the inscription 'Mr Robinson's order Winchmore Hill' on the outside. There are also some pencilled figures here. The paper is hallmarked with Britannia in an oval with crown above on one side, and initials probably JJ on the other.



The manuscript, presumably an upholsterer's account or estimate, contains costs for furnishing different rooms in a house. Under each room is a list of furniture and furnishings and against six of them samples of printed cotton have been attached.



Front page:

'Best Bedroom'. The furnishings listed include 'a 4 ft 6 four post bedstead, Japan'd cornices shap'd foot; a cotton Furniture' and 'a cotton festoon w. curtain.' Total cost 52:4:6. The fragmentary sample attached is a block-printed cotton with a pattern of broad bands of decorative stripes in shades of brown alternating with leaves and berries in colours.



'Second best Bedroom'. The furnishings listed include 'a 4 ft 6 four post bedstead, Japan'd cornices and cotton Furniture' and 'a cotton festoon window curtain.' Total cost 50:0:0 /12:0:0. The fragmentary sample attached is block-printed cotton with a pattern of a band of brown stripes alongside flowers and leaves in colours. Selvedge present with traces of blue thread, indicating English manufacture.



'Best Tent Bedroom'. The furnishings listed include 'a 4 ft 6 field bedstead, Japan'd vases & cotton furniture fringed' and '2 cotton festoon w. curtains.' Total cost 44:0:0. The fragmentary sample attached is a block-printed cotton with a pattern of imitation chine, flowers and spiky leaves in blues and brown. Selvedge present but dyeing has obscured possible traces of blue thread.



Inside page left:

'Second Tent Bedroom'. The furnishings listed include 'a field bedstead with vases & cotton furniture fringed' and 'a pair cotton W Cs to draw on a rod.' Total cost 27:14:0. The fragmentary sample attached is a block-printed cotton with a pattern of twigs and leaves, possibly hops, in brown. Selvedge present with 3 blue threads.



'Drawing Room'. The furnishings listed include '2 cotton drapery w. curtains fring'd at bottom'. Total cost 58:15:6. The fragmentary sample attached is a block-printed cotton with a pattern of flowers and leaves in colours on brown ground.



'Parlour'. Furnishings listed, but no sample attached. Total cost 50:14:0



Inside page right:

'Hall'. The furnishings listed include 'a 3ft wainscot press bedstead and crimson check [crossed out] con [?] cotton furn.' Total cost 20:0:0. The fragmentary sample attached is a block-printed cotton with a pattern of flowers and leaves in colours on brown ground, same as the second tent bedroom. Selvedge present with 3 blue threads.



'Coachman’s Room'. Furnishings listed, but no sample attached. Total cost 15:0:0.



'Kitchen'. Furnishings listed, but no sample attached. Total cost 2:12:6.



There is a calculation at the bottom of the total of sums: £333:0:6.



Pinned to the front of the manuscript is a note 'Rookeby – Balance of bond 24 January 179 [? the last numeral is obscure]', followed by calculations and dates in 1799, 1800 and 1801. The reverse reads 'last payment made by Mr Carter's Dft £150. due 24th Jany 179[? the last numeral is obscure]'.
Dimensions
  • Height: 32.5cm
  • Width: 20cm
  • Height: 12.75in
  • Width: 7.875in
LC 5.11.10
Gallery Label
Upholsterer’s estimate About 1790–1800 England Paper with printed cotton samples attached Given by Dr E. Hillis Marshall Museum no. T.119-1959 Upholsterers provided all kinds of goods and services. This document lists the costs of furnishing different rooms in the house of a Mr Robinson of Winchmore Hill (then a village north of London). It includes samples of woodblock-printed cottons. These were some of the finest printed furnishings of the day, used for bed hangings, window curtains and seat covers. (01/12/2012)
Credit line
Given by Dr E. Hillis & Mrs M. Marshall
Object history
Described by the donors as being found among some family papers recently inherited.
Historical context
The printed cotton samples show a variety of floral patterns typical of the period; for comparison see for example Circ.96-1960, Circ.100-1960, T.2-1958.



From the 1790s through the first 20 years of the 19th century, the finest and most expensive printed furnishings were polychrome woodblock-printed cottons, the technique used on the samples here. These fabrics appear to have been chosen for both bed hangings and window curtains; in this period it was particularly fashionable for the different furnishings used in a room, including window curtains and upholstery fabric, to match or complement each other.

The leading printworks for woodblock furniture chintzes were in Lancashire and Cumbria, where printing was carried out for London linen-drapers, such as Richard Ovey of Covent Garden, who from 1790 to 1831 was the leading London merchant for 'furniture prints'. Although these cottons cannot be identified with a particular manufacturer, they are known to be English as they include blue threads woven into the selvedges, corresponding to legislation passed in 1774 to distinguish between home manufactured and imported cotton, for excise purposes.



This document is likely to have been an estimate rather than an invoice; it bears the client's name, Mr Robinson of Winchmore Hill, but not that of the upholsterer who drew it up. Winchmore Hill is to the north of London, still a village in the late 18th century, but experiencing much new building from the 1770s. Woodblock printed cottons had widespread popularity in the period in any case, but would have been considered particularly suitable for furnishing villas and cottages, where more elaborate or heavier materials could have been obtrusive (Collard, p.274).
Summary
From the 1790s through the first 20 years of the 19th century, the finest and most expensive printed furnishings were polychrome woodblock-printed cottons, the technique used on the samples here. These fabrics appear to have been chosen for both bed hangings and window curtains; in this period it was particularly fashionable for the different furnishings used in a room, including window curtains and upholstery fabric, to match or complement each other.



This document is likely to have been an estimate for the furnishings of a house; it bears the client's name, Mr Robinson of Winchmore Hill, but not that of the upholsterer who drew it up. Winchmore Hill is to the north of London, still a village in the late 18th century, but experiencing much new building from the 1770s. Woodblock printed cottons had widespread popularity in the period, and would have been considered particularly suitable for furnishing villas and genteel cottages, where more elaborate or heavier materials could have been obtrusive .
Bibliographic Reference
Frances Collard, Regency Furniture, 1985, p.276
Collection
Accession Number
T.119-1959

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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