Two yew-wood tables by Ince & Mayhew have recently been advertised by Apter Fredericks in London. Although slightly varying in design they both have a very distinctive frieze, which can also be seen on other items of Ince & Mayhew furniture.
The style is called a Vitruvian scroll and is like a running wave. It was named after Vitruvius a Roman architect, engineer and author. It was almost uncanny to see how closely the frieze on the dressing-table provided for the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace matched the ones on the two tables. It is also the same design as the frieze on a card table at Blenheim. The tables are saved to my Pinterest board – Furniture for Sale.
This Vitruvian scroll frieze also appears on a pair of Bookcases sold by Christie’s in 1993 for £111,500, which also have swags hanging from ribbon ties and large urns, both characteristic of Ince & Mayhew marquetry.
It is this very close similarity that allows an expert to attribute an item of furniture to a particular maker with confidence. The most satisfactory proof to my mind is a bill that specifies the item that was supplied, on a piece of paper with the firm’s heading! Croome Court, and Linley Hall provide good examples in their archives.
Another very helpful indicator is an inventory that specifies an item supplied by the firm such as the 1792 inventory at Broadlands where Lady Palmerston noted the Secretary made by Ince (17)82.
Sometimes a person’s bank account will indicate that an amount was paid to Mr Ince, or Ince and Mayhew, or any of the other variations. The 3rd Earl of Darnley’s account book gives the account name as William Ince from 1761-1780.[i] He paid the firm a total of £3,798 18s 4d, and his son the 4th Earl paid them £3605 9s 3d. This excludes the £962 18s for the 3rd Earl’s funeral. (Medway Archives: U0565) It is then a question of looking at items of furniture that still exist related to the account-holder's residence, in this case Cobham Hall, to see which have Ince & Mayhew characteristics.
[i] Ingle, Sarah William Ince Cabinet Maker His Life and Ancestry 2015 p.60
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.