53 King St. Carmarthen, Wales; cabinet maker and upholsterer (b.1813–fl.1874)
Davies, the first son of Isaac Davies, a cabinet maker, and Elizabeth, was baptised in Carmarthen in 1813. His father’s firm is first recorded in 1821 with an advertisement in the Carmarthen Journal at which time it was based in Priory Street. By 1833 the firm had moved nearby to 53 King Street and the family business remained in Carmarthen until at least 1874, although by 1871 it had moved to 31 King Street.
In 1849, at the age of thirty-four, John married. He took over the family business when his father died in 1855. However, it is likely that he played a considerable role in the firm for at least ten years before that because a surviving notebook includes forty-two pages of his drawings and detailed designs dating from 1844 to 1855, including coded pricing (illus. Bebb (2007), fig. 1077). The pieces of furniture which John illustrated are mostly items made to order for the local gentry and professional people. The Carmarthen Journal of 1850 records that John designed the pair of altar chairs in gothic style for the recently restored Llandeilo Church, where at the time of the article were still in place (illus. Millar, Regional Furniture (1996), p. 79; Bebb (2007), fig. 1075). The design is not amongst those in the notebook. Another Gothic chair was made for the Mayor of Carmarthen in 1851 (illus. Bebb (2007), fig. 1076). Additional insight into the firm’s activity is given by the stock-in-trade auction sale which took place in October 1855, after his father, Isaac’s death (appendix II. Millar, Regional Furniture (1996)). In 1858 John’s stock was again up for sale by auction ‘in order to make room for alterations and improvements in his premises’. The auctioneer’s sale notice describes the stock as ‘comprising an immense variety of Rose Wood, Walnut, Zebra, Mahogany, Oak, and Painted Drawing-Dining-Room, Parlour, Bedroom and other furniture, including Dining, Loo, Occasional, Card, Ladies Work, Chess, and Dressing tables, do. do. Chairs to march, with Couches, Sofas, Easy and Lounging Chairs, Ottomans, Devonports, Canterburies, Whatnots, Music Stands and Stools, Portable Desks, Secretaries and Bookcases, Book-Shelves, Four-Post, Arabian and French Bedsteads, Gilt Chimney and Dressing Glasses. A large assortment of Iron Bedsteads, of most elegant designs, and approved construction. Wardrobes — Wing, Tripple and Single, Chest of Drawers, Bedsteps, Chamber Pedestals, Commodes, Towel Stands, Pedestal Sideboards, Chiffoneers, etc.’ In 1871 he had moved to 31 King Street and is described as ‘Cabinet-maker and Upholsterer and Licensed Victualler’. Thereafter, there are no further recordings of the firm in Census or trade directories.
Source: Millar, ‘The Notebook of John Davies, Cabinet Maker, Carmarthen 1844-1855’, Regional Furniture (1996); Bebb, Welsh Furniture (2007), pp. 230-32.