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Coxed, John and G., and Woster, Thomas

Coxed, John and G., and Woster, Thomas, cm of ‘The White Swan’, St Paul's Churchyard, London, (1700–36). A number of desks, bureaux, bureau cabinets, secretaire cabinets and chests of drawers dating from the period 1700–30 have been found with the trade labels of John Coxed and G. Coxed & T. Woster (e.g. Colonial Williamsburg). Typically, they are veneered in walnut, mulberry or burr elm (sometimes stained to resemble tortoiseshell), and some pieces are embellished with kingwood crossbanding and pewter stringing. This metal line inlay was almost certainly due to the influence of Gerrit Jensen who introduced such fashionable Continental habits into England in the late 17th century. The earliest examples — all bureau or secretaire cabinets dating from c. 1700–10 — are labelled ‘John Coxed, At the Swan in St Paul's Church-Yard, London, makes and sells Cabinets, Book Cases, Chests of Drawers, Scrutoires and Looking-glasses of all sorts’. John Coxed was the second in a long succession of cm known to have occupied ‘The Swan’ in St Paul's Churchyard. By c. 1710 he seems to have been replaced at this address by G. Coxed and T. Woster, whose fullest known trade label reads ‘G. Coxed and T. Woster At the White Swan, against the South-Gate in St Paul's Church Yard, London, Makes and Sells Cabinets, Scrutoires, Desks and Book-Cases, Buro's Chests of Drawers, Wisk, Ombre, Dutch and Indian Tea-Tables; All sorts of Looking-Glasses, Large Sconces, Dressing Sets and Wainscot-Work of all sorts, at Reasonable Rates. Old Glasses New polished and Made up fashionable.’

The distinctive nature of this furniture has naturally led to speculation that other, similar, pieces were the products of the same workshop. As well as these important burr-veneered cabinet pieces, Coxed & Woster clearly made other types of furniture and carried out more ordinary ‘Wainscot-Work’. In 1723 Thomas Woster was paid £2 5s by ‘Madme Rudge’ for a writing table, and in 1725 the same lady paid £2 12s 6d for a card table [Lincoln RO, Monson, 12], while in April 1735 Woster sent a bill to Richard Hoare of Barn Elms (later of Stourhead) for a ‘strong wainscot table’ and a ‘large wainscot press’ at a total cost of £9 12s 6d. In December the same year he sent a bill to Hoare for strong wainscot tables at a total cost of £1 12s 6d. [V & A Lib., English Manuscripts, 147] In September 1724 Thomas Woster, cm, had taken out insurance on three houses in Chiswell St and two in Sword Bearer Alley with two sheds, to the value of £800. [GL, Sun MS vol. 19] His death was recorded in Daily Post, 14 December 1736: ‘Mr. Woster, a Cabinet-maker in St Paul's Church-yard, the Foreman of the London Jury, dy'd suddenly in the Session-house about Twelve o’ clock the same day: He complain'd of a Pain in his Stomach and drank a Glass of Mountain, and afterwards desired a Glass of Sack, but expir'd before it could be brought to him’. [Apollo, January 1936, p. 22] Coxed & Woster were followed at ‘The White Swan’ by Henry Bell and his successors. [GCM; Heal; Apollo, November 1941; C. Life, 20 August 1948, pp. 384–85] N. R.

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.