I have been reading about the beautiful Rosebery Desk which was made by Ince & Mayhew around 1775 and was in the collection of the 5th Earl of Rosebery. It was sold by his daughter Lady Sybil Grant in 1956 to a private collector in Canada and later loaned to the Metropolitan Museum of New York. To see some photographs of this delightful piece, follow the link below.
The desk has superb marquetry throughout and is described as ‘meticulously inlaid’. It has an inlaid roll-top with a leather writing surface inside, with pigeon holes in satinwood and small drawers in burr yew, which flank a small mahogany painted cupboard door. The front has a drawer and a frieze which includes two wyverns with scaly fish tails. The desk is similar to the roll-top desk attributed to Ince & Mayhew at Syon House.
The wyvern can be found on other furniture associated with Ince & Mayhew, and appear in heraldry. Two wyverns support the arms of the Dukes of Marlborough and are so depicted on the dedication page of the Universal System of Household Furniture. I wonder if William Ince had enjoyed drawing them and wanted to include them in some of his designs, though it may be that the design came originally from Robert Adam.
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.