It was a privilege to attend the book launch of 'Industry and Ingenuity' at Christie's on Monday evening, and a delight to meet the authors, Hugh Roberts and Charlie Cator. An extra bonus was the Ince & Mayhew furniture on display as part of the auction of the Collection of Lord and Lady Weinstock.
The auction was held on Tuesday and it is interesting to note the prices that were realised. The pair of gilt-brass mounted, marquetry and giltwood pier tables had an estimate of £100,000 to £150,000 and realised £163,800, the pair of gilt-metal mounted marquetry and painted demi-lune commodes had the same estimate and realised £151,200, and the satinwood-crossbanded mahogany chest, estimated at £5000 to £8000, realised £44,100! The pair of gilt-brass mounted, marquetry, painted and giltwood demi-lune console tables were not sold. A joy to be able to read all about these pieces and the people who commissioned them in 'Industry and Ingenuity'.
Cousin Matt and I were privileged to attend the Furniture History Society lecture last week given by Sir Hugh Roberts on the forthcoming book Industry and Ingenuity - The Partnership of Ince and Mayhew. He and Charlie Cator have been researching this book for some 40 years and it looks as though it will be an absolute treat.
They have uncovered 97 patrons of the firm and identified some 300 pieces of furniture but the lack of complete documentation has made it hard as there are so few bills. Lord Kerry paid the firm some £15,000 but only 8 pieces have been identified, including the urns at the Lady Lever Art Gallery that some of us visited.
One chapter in the book is about the leitmotif of the firm that provides a signature when identifying a piece and includes the use of yew wood, ebonised borders, foliate ring boss handles and chequer line inlay.
The authors’ hope is that they have provided for Ince & Mayhew a corpus of adequately documented pieces discussed in the context of the original commissioning. There are some 500 photographs, which will be a treat for any I & M fan, especially the descendants of the two partners. If you have not yet pre-ordered your copy I urge you to do so.
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.