The Royal Collection includes a side table attributed to Ince & Mayhew, which is in the East Gallery of Buckingham Palace. It is made of gilded walnut and pine and has a marble top. The frieze has a crouching lion in the centre. This lion is similar to one on a medallion on a side table supplied to the Earl of Kerry by Ince & Mayhew, as well as one on a serpentine table at Kenwood.
The table in Buckingham Palace came from Woodhall Park in Hertfordshire and was made for Sir Thomas Rumbold. According to Historic England, Sir Thomas Rumbold bought the estate around 1777, from John Boteler for £85,000. Rumbold, who was the Governor of Madras for the East India Company, demolished the remains of the house which had partly burnt out in 1771, building a new one designed by Thomas Leverton in the neo-classical style. In 1782-3, when Rumbold returned from several years abroad, an extensive planting programme was put in hand, with plants supplied by the firm of William Malcolm and Son, Royal Nurserymen and 'Surveyors, Nursery and Seedsmen' of Stockwell (Debois 1985).
Rumbold sold the estate to Paul Benfield in 1794, who sold it on to Samuel Smith (d 1834) in 1801. Samuel Smith was a partner in the family banking business. He succeeded his father as M.P. for St. Germans, and voted with Pitt over the Regency. Upon Smith's death his son Abel Smith inherited the estate, which continued in the family into the twentieth century.
Ince & Mayhew were Rumbold’s principal furniture suppliers. A pair of side tables made of sabicu, amaranth and holly, also with marble tops, was sold at Christie’s in 2007 for £156,000. According to the catalogue notes these tables are linked to the Woodhall Park furniture. An article was written for Country Life magazine in 1930 about this furniture, mentioning some Grecian tripod candelabra-stands which were inlaid with varie-coloured woods and trompe l'oeil flutes, like the tables. Sabicu comes from a West Indian tree and resembles mahogany; amaranth is another name for purpleheart wood.
Thomas Leverton was responsible for a number of eighteenth century houses, most of which have now been demolished or remodelled, as well as Charing Cross fire engine house. His works include:
 Lucy Wood, Catalogue of Commodes
The British Antiques Dealers’ Association held their annual fair from 15th to 21st March this year in Chelsea, London.
One of the exhibitors was James McWhirter Antiques Ltd who included an Ince & Mayhew mirror in their collection. Made around 1785 it was described as a George III carton pierre mirror with a central plate from the Queen Anne period. Carton pierre is like papier-mache, being based on pulped paper fibre extended and hardened with substantial amounts of glue, whiting, and gypsum plaster, and sometimes alum and flour. Carton-pierre was pressed into moulds and allowed to harden, the result being mid-way between plaster and papier-mache in weight and density. It was often used by Robert Adam.
This mirror is surmounted by a classical urn which has trailing husks and swags inset with classical oval roundels. The husks are a classic Ince & Mayhew decoration. A picture of the mirror featured in an article in Apollo magazine. It was priced at £11,800.
There are around a dozen items of furniture attributed to Ince & Mayhew for sale in the listings of BADA with different antique dealers.
A friend of mine reports that she heard mention of William Ince in a radio play on Radio 4 the other day. In the play someone was saying she had to go to Ince to collect some deal.
It is likely that this was Lady Shelburne who wrote in her diary in 1768 “To Mayhew and Inch where is some beautiful cabinet work and two pretty cases for one of the rooms in my apartment, and which though they are only deal, and to be painted white, he charges £50 for.”[i]
We know from her diary that Lady Shelburne visited Ince and Mayhew on a number of occasions. In 1765 she wrote: Saturday the 28th We all went to Ince the cabinet makers to see our furniture for the drawing room and my dressing room at Bowood. Gave Ince plans from Herculaneum and Palmyra for ornaments for a Comode of Yew tree wood inlaid with Holly and Ebony.[ii] This was the little scene enacted in Amanda Vickery’s television programme, At Home with the Georgians: A Woman’s Touch, broadcast in November 2015. It was wonderful to see an actor playing William Ince.
[i] Encyclopedia of Interior Design edited by Joanna Banham
[ii] Vickery, A. Behind Closed Doors Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2009 p.169 Citation: Bowood Archives, Lady Shelburne's diaries, vol 3 (1766), f.1, vol 1 ff.10,13,15,16
It was a delight to come across some information about Charlotte Grace Cowell, grand-daughter of William Ince, who was a miniaturist painter. She was born on the 13th October 1811, daughter of George Cowell and Isabella Ince, who had married in St Mary’s Hornsey in 1795 when William Ince was Church Warden. Charlotte was the youngest of their six children.
In 1834-1835 she won the Silver Isis medal for an original miniature from the Royal Society of Arts. She exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1851, two portraits being listed against her name; the late Levi Ames, Esq. and the daughter of J.O.Hanson, Esq. She was described as Cowell Miss Grace Charlotte (afterwards Mrs F. Dixon) miniature painter of 12 Upper Gloucester Street. She married Frederick Henry Dixon on 11th October 1851, two days short of her 40th birthday, at St Martin’s in the Fields. Frederick was also a portrait painter.
According to The Dictionary of British Women Artists[i] she was active between 1851 and 1875 having been instructed by Frederick Crucikshank a portrait painter and miniaturist and François Théodore Rochard (French, 1798-1858) who also produced portrait miniatures and watercolours.
Bonhams sold a painting of hers in 2003. It was described as A bearded and bespectacled Gentleman, wearing black coat over white shirt and blue cravat signed on obverse and dated G Dixon 1873, and on the reverse, Mrs. F. Dixon/ Miniature Painter/ 1873, fitted red leather case Oval, 108mm. (4 1/4ins.) high
Another surviving painting is a miniature portrait described as Oil on Ivory Portrait of a Toddler Holding a Rose, unsigned, but by Charlotte Dixon. On the obverse it is inscribed by Cowell Writing Painter Gilder No.16 Little New Street Shoe Lane Fleet Street
According to the Dictionary of British Women Artists, Grace Cowell visited Paris, but travelled mostly around Britain, producing portraits in miniature, and large portrait heads in black and white chalk. Her portraits apparently included such subjects as the Madonna, Caesar Borgia and Richard Bethel, the Lord Chancellor.
It was interesting to see in the 1841 census that her older unmarried sister was with their parents in Devon, but Grace is not there. She may have been out of the country as I cannot find her. It seems likely that her father gave her financial support; he was a wealthy city merchant. In his will, proved in 1846, he left everything to his wife, Isabella, to be divided between the children on her death ((apart from daughter Isabella who had received financial support on her marriage). Their mother died in the summer of 1852, so Grace would probably have been able to support herself and her painter husband. I have not yet found any surviving work by him.
[i] Gray, Sara, The Dictionary of British Women Artists Lutterworth Press, 2009
There is some interesting information about an Ince & Mayhew Pembroke Table which is for sale at Nicholas Wells Antiques Ltd. It is described as one of the finest 18th Century Pembroke tables ever made and, from the photographs, it certainly looks to be a wonderfully preserved example of their work. A full description of the table is given along with some superb photographs and an in-depth explanation of the different woods used.
In the centre there is a satinwood oval, crossbanded in kingwood, which is framed in boxwood & mahogany lines, surrounded by the harewood veneers. This is also crossbanded in kingwood with boxwood and mahogany lines and has an ebonised moulded edge. The veneers are laid on Honduras mahogany.
Harewood is created by boiling English sycamore veneer in a solution of ferrous (iron) sulphate which turns it a silvery-grey colour. Apparently in the 17th century the roots of sycamore trees were treated with ferrous sulphate for several years to turn the wood grey naturally. It is an expensive process, though it is possible to do it yourself, as explained by the Redbridge Marquetry Group!
When the table was first made the satinwood would have been yellow and the kingwood purple, a very striking combination with the silver-grey.
The table is described as A Museum quality masterpiece from two of the most influential designers & makers from the 18th Century. I have written to Nicholas Wells to ask what is known about its provenance.
On 17th November Christie's are holding an auction in London entitled The English Collector: English Furniture, Clocks and Portrait Miniatures. Amongst the items for sale is a very attractive Ince & Mayhew bowfront commode, with harewood, rosewood-crossbanding and inlaid satinwood.
What I especially like about it is that it has four graduated drawers, getting larger in size as they descend. It is dated around 1770 and the estimate is £12,000 to £18,000.
There are strong similarities between this commode and ones at Broadlands supplied to Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston, for the Book Room. It has bell flowers in the marquetry and ebonised edge mouldings. The ring handles are very similar to those on other commodes at Broadlands, and to an Ince & Mayhew commode sold by Christie's in 2007.
I recently came across Pat Kirkham's book on Furniture Making in London in the Eighteenth Century[i]. There are a number of interesting facts about the firm Ince & Mayhew, many of which were included in her article for the Furniture History Society[ii].
However, one detail that had escaped me up to now was that when John Mayhew married Isabella Stephenson, she had a large dowry. Pat Kirkham writes: John Mayhew’s wife brought a large sum of money to her husband when they married in 1762, and, widowed within the year, Mayhew used approximately three thousand pounds of that money to finance his business.
I am going to re-visit the National Archives to see if there is any further information on this, but it did help to explain why Isabella's sister, Ann, William's wife, had no hesitation about taking John Mayhew to court to get a fair settlement on the break-up of the partnership. She would no doubt have known all about that money, and would have regarded it as belonging equally to her family. No wonder she insisted on a more balanced final payment.
[i] Kirkham, P. (1988). The London Furniture Trade 1700-1870. Furniture History, 24, I-219. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23406689
[ii] Kirkham, P.. (1974). The Partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew 1759—1804. Furniture History, 10, 56–60. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23403407
The first three plates in the Universal System of Household Furniture, the directory published by Ince & Mayhew between 1759 and 1762, contain Ornaments for Practice and include instructions for novice designers on how to draw.
The first plate includes the following description:
Plate I – containing several pieces of Foliage properly adapted to young beginners in their first practice of Drawing, being extremely necessary to bring the Hand into that Freedom required in all kind of Ornament, useful to Carvers, Cabinet-Makers, Chasers, Engravers, etc, etc. ….
The next plate is called A Sistimatical Order of Raffle Leaf from the Line of Beauty and is described as a compleat Leaf of Foliage; the principal Sweep or Centre Line is that Foundation and Basis of the whole Order of Ornament; that must be first drawn and made perfect (which can only be done by freedom of Hand) before you proceed any further;
It was interesting to learn from an article in the RIHA Journal[i], that William Hogarth was promoting the theory of the line of beauty in his book Analysis of Beauty which was published in 1753. He saw the line of beauty as an S-shape, or an inverted S-shape, which he considered conveyed liveliness and activity, which would excite the viewer. This was in contrast to straight lines, which were seen as inanimate.
It is interesting to see William Ince used the phrase Line of Beauty and it would seem likely that Hogarth’s book was important to him when learning his trade. His apprenticeship with John West started in 1753, so the book would have just been available.
Incidentally a raffle leaf was an architectural ornament. The Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture’s definition is: Serrated, indented, or crumpled leaf-like enrichment with waving indented frond-like (or raffled) edges. Raffling is applied to the notched edges of carved foliage in architectural ornament.
I have also discovered that the Universal System of Household Furniture was not known to have been advertised in America until 1766. An advertisement appeared in the South-Carolina & American General Gazette (Charleston) on July 18, 1766. It read: “Robert Wells, At the Great Stationary and Book Shop on the Bay, has imported for sale Chippendale’s and Ince and Mayhew’s designs of household furniture from London.” The advertisement appeared again in 1772.[ii]
[i] Anne Puetz, Drawing from Fancy: The Intersection of Art and Design in Mid-Eighteenth-Century London RIHA Journal
[ii] Morrison H. Heckscher, English Furniture Pattern Books in Eighteenth-Century America http://www.chipstone.org/article.php/48/American-Furniture-1994/English-Furniture-Pattern-Books-in-Eighteenth-Century-America (Dixon, p.68, no.19).
Further to last week’s post, I had a look in the British Newspaper Archives for Ince & Mayhew and then searched again for Mayhew and Ince.
The results supported my findings. The firm was called Ince & Mayhew, apart from the eighteenth century articles and advertisements which came out when the firm was still in existence, which referred to Mayhew and Ince. Any furniture for sale at auction stated Ince & Mayhew.
Interestingly in the 1870s and 1880s there were a series of advertisements in many local papers looking for copies of furniture directories. They all read the same:
OLD BOOKS WANTED on Cabinet Making by Hepplewhite, Ince and Mayhew, or Chippendale. Will give £2 2s for either…..
The amount offered was sometimes £2 10s.The address given for replies was 41 Porchester Road, London, later Evering Road, Stoke Newington.
In 1878 the advertisement appeared in the following papers: Bristol Mercury, Liverpool Mercury, Worcester Journal, Sheffield Independent, York Herald, Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald, Leeds Times, Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, Hampshire Advertiser, Belfast Telegraph. In 1879 it was in the Liverpool Mercury, in 1880 the Glasgow Herald and in 1881 the Gloucester Citizen, Bury Free Press, Leeds Times, Banbury Advertising and the Lancaster Gazette.
On 12th May 1894 the Birmingham Daily Post ran a report on an Important Sale of Books at Sothebys at which The Universal System of Household Furniture consisting of 300 designs and 95 plates by Ince and Mayhew had been sold for £25[i], proving a very good investment for the collector.
As reported last week, the 1762 edition of the Universal System was specially scarce and a copy in perfect condition was priced by Batsfords in 1940 at £150[ii]. In 1996,Christie’s sold a copy of an intermediate issue, dated about 1765, for £6,325 and in 2011 they sold a copy for £8,125. A first edition, dated 1760, was sold by Bonhams in 2013 for 6500 USD (£4,973 ) and a copy was sold by them from the library of the late Hugh Selbourne, M.D. in 2015 for £6,875 including premium.
What has astonished me though is a copy of the Universal System being sold by Potterton Books of York, London and New York for £18,000. This version is printed on twentieth century mottled calf, has gilt decorative borders and red morocco lettering pieces. It is described as a Handsome book.
William Ince invented and drew 75 of the 95 plates as well as the title page and I’ve been looking at some of them in my Dover Publications edition. Items such as the library steps and the Ladies’ Dressing Table are really delightful!
[i] According to the National Archives Currency Converter, £25 in 1890 would be worth close on £1500 in 2005. £2 2s would be roughly £100.
[ii] Davis, Frank, The World of Art in Wartime, Furniture “Convenient to the Nobility and Gentry The Illustrated London News on 25th May 1940.
Unsurprisingly the descendants of William Ince are convinced that the firm should be referred to as Ince & Mayhew. After all, William was the talented cabinet-maker who produced the majority of the drawings for their directory The Universal System of Household Furniture. He was the man to whom Matthew Boulton offered a well-aired Bed, wholesome Bread & Cheese and a hearty wellcome[i]. He would have overseen the production of the furniture, probably choosing the workmen, training the apprentices and checking on their output. He was the man who wrote to Lord Myddleton at Chirk Castle to check the paintings on the ceiling to make sure the compartments over the Glass’s in the piers might be correspondant with them[ii]. It is not going too far to say that William Ince was responsible for the furniture produced by the firm.
Why then is it often referred to as Mayhew and Ince?
Eighteenth century records almost always refer to the firm as Mayhew and Ince. In their 1759 Agreement John Mayhew’s name comes before William Ince’s on the legal document. Mayhew and Ince is how it is written in the Land Tax returns for the houses they owned and rented; it is referred to as Mayhew & Ince in some directories and advertisements. Charles Ince, William’s son, refers to the Firm of Mayhew, Ince and Sons in his advertisement in the London Gazette of 12th April 1800 where he says he is taking over the firm. Also many of the accounts sent to their clients were headed Mayhew & Ince. However, occasionally they advertised as Ince & Mayhew, such as in an advertisement for a Lease which appeared in The Times on 23rd May 1799 and sometimes in the Bank books for their clients the name of William Ince appears, or Ince & Mayhew, Ince & Co, Messrs Ince.
It is also interesting to note how the name has been presented in the antiques world. Initially, their directory was the main focus of articles and as William Ince’s name appears before that of John Mayhew, the firm is referred to as Ince & Mayhew. In 1904 R. S. Clouston wrote an article called Minor English Furniture Makers of the Eighteenth Century Article III-Ince and Mayhew[iii]. An item in The Times dated 8th June 1921 refers to some chairs for which there is reason to think that they are the work of Ince and Mayhew as they resemble an illustration of a chair in the Universal System.
An article written by Lieut-Colonel E. F. Strange, Late Keeper in the Victoria and Albert Museum, for The Illustrated London News in 1929 entitled English Hanging Mirrors also referred to the publication of Ince and Mayhew-The Universal System… and had a reproduction of Plate LXXVIII from their Directory. This showed two designs for Oval Glass-Frames and is a delightful illustration by William Ince, with a hunter and dog, birds, squirrels and possibly a little lamb included in the carving.
Another article appeared in The Illustrated London News on 25th May 1940. This was entitled The World of Art in Wartime, Furniture “Convenient to the Nobility and Gentry.” by Frank Davis. He included four illustrations from The Universal System, each time referring to the firm as Ince & Mayhew. The particular volume from which they were taken, the 1762 edition, was specially scarce and in perfect condition so was priced by Batsfords at £150; Chippendale’s Director being priced at £25. In 1946 the furniture shop Heal’s ran a series of advertisements using quotations from The Universal System, citing the firm as Ince & Mayhew.
In The Times in 1963 Edward Pinto, in an article about the Furniture Makers’ Guild, wrote Such great names in the eighteenth century as Thomas Chippendale, William Vile, Ince and Mayhew were proud to call themselves Upholders first and Cabinet-Makers second. Pinto used the same name for the firm when writing about the Kimbolton Cabinet in another article for The Times in 1969.
Lindsay Boynton’s article in 1966 was called An Ince and Mayhew Correspondence[iv]. Colin Streeter consistently refers to Ince and Mayhew in his 1971 article Marquetry Furniture by a Brilliant London Master[v] as does Morrisson Heckscher in 1974[vi]. In 1981 Hugh Roberts wrote articles about Broadlands, called The Ince and Mayhew Connection[vii]. However in the 1990s the name changes to Mayhew and Ince as seen in articles by Hugh Roberts and Charles Cator, in Lucy Wood’s Catalogue of Commodes, and almost always in Lot Notes produced by the auction houses. Does anyone know why?
It is very pleasing to note that in his more recent articles Hugh Roberts has started using Ince and Mayhew again[viii].
[i] Boynton, L. (1966). An Ince and Mayhew Correspondence Furniture History, 2, 23–36
[ii] Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales E5126-E5128
[iii] The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, 6(19), 47–52
[iv] Boynton, L. (1966). An Ince and Mayhew Correspondence Furniture History, 2, 23–36
[v] Colin Streeter, June 1971 Marquetry Furniture by a Brilliant London Master The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 29 (10), 418–429
[vi] Heckscher, M. (1974). Ince and Mayhew: Bibliographical Notes from New York Furniture History, 10, 61–67.
[vii] Hugh Roberts, ‘The Ince and Mayhew Connection, Furniture at Broadlands, Hampshire’, Country Life, 29 January 1981 pp288-90.
[viii] Hugh Roberts, 'Precise and Exact in the Minutest Things of Taste and Decoration' : The Earl of Kerry's Patronage of Ince & Mayhew (2013) Furniture History 2013
Sarah Ingle is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Ince and has been researching her family history for a number of years. She thoroughly enjoyed the detective work involved in tracing William’s lineage.