Skip to main content

Betjemann, G. & Sons; George Betjemann Ltd. (1810-1910)

Betjemann, G. & Sons; George Betjemann Ltd.

London; dressing and writing furniture makers (fl.1810-c.1910)

George Betjemann (1798-1886) was apprenticed to the dressing case maker Gilbert Slater in 1810 and later established himself as a dressing case manufacturer, initially in Clerkenwell and later in Pentonville Road, where eventually the firm had 119 employees. At the Paris 1878 International Exhibition the firm had an extensive display including self-closing bookslides, extending dressing cases and desks. Also exhibited were writing suites in fancy woods and engraved and gilt medieval ornamental metal work, letter balances, photographic albums and frames. The range extended to clocks and candelabra, silver etui, sandwich cases and toilet cases. Betjemann’s work often made use of exotic and typically French materials such as Algerian Onyx, malachite and other fancy marbles. Objects made by the firm occasionally appear on the market; recent examples include a walnut and brass mounted writing slope, signed G. BETJEMANN & SONS/LONDON (Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh, 14 January 2015) and a satinwood dressing table designed by Ernest Edward Betjemann for George Betjemann Ltd with a fitted safe manufactured by Milners & Company, London and Liverpool, the patent registered 1910 (Bonhams London, 12 June 2013). A writing desk made by the firm, c.1860, walnut with gilt-bronze mounts and pietre dure, was formerly in the Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read collection and is now at the Higgins Art Gallery and Museum, Bedford (HAGM: F.76). George Betjemann was the great grandfather of the poet Sir John Betjemann (1906-1984).

Sources: Wallis, ‘A Hand-List of the Handley-Read Collection’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present (2016); Meyer, Great Exhibitions. London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia. 1851-1900 (2006); files in the Department of Furniture, Textiles & Fashion, V&A.