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Johnstone, Jupe & Co. (1835-1894)

Johnstone, Jupe & Co.; Johnstone and Jeanes & Co.; Johnstone and Norman

67 New Bond Street, London; cabinet makers and upholsterers (fl. 1835-1894) 

Possibly the ‘Johnstone’ who was recorded as one of the buyers at George Bullocks sale of stock in trade in 1819, having acquired a book of tracings, drawings and timber, and in fact was the biggest single buyer in terms of expenditure. From early 1832 to 1838, John Johnstone and Robert Jupe were in partnership as Johnstone, Jupe & Co., and in 1835 Robert Jupe patented a new extending, capstan table (patent no. 6788), which was made by the firm, (illus. Aslin, 19th Century English Furniture (1962) pl. 5). A number of stamped examples of the table, a teapoy and the firm’s engraved or impressed mark are illustrated in Gilbert (1996), figs 528- 537.

In 1836 the firm took legal action against Samuel Luke Pratt (1805-78) who began advertising a similar table. The jury decided in favour of Jupe, but Pratt’s lawyer filed for a non-suit and a new trial. In April 1837 the court dismissed the non-suit but decided that if Pratt paid for the entire costs of the previous trial and felt there was sufficient argument to win a new trial, this could be granted. No retrial was pursued. In January 1839 the partners parted ways with Jupe moving to 47 Welbeck Street, but Johnstone retained the patent for manufacture of the circular expanding table, as well as Jupe’s patented extending dessert plateau (which had been designed to complement the table). The firm became Johnstone & Jeanes after 1842.

Johnstone, Jeanes & Co. exhibited examples of the expanding table at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and Paris Universal Exposition of 1878. Johnstone and Jeanes & Co. were recorded in the Lord Chamberlain’s accounts, 1837-85. The firm charged 7s 2d per day for each cabinet maker and upholsterer working at Buckingham Palace, 6s a day for French polishers and 3s for women in 1845-50. In the early 1850s, they supplied a large Ottoman Seat and State Chair, both for the platform in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace, cost £252 & £52. The Ballroom was designed by Prince Albert and first used in 1856 to celebrate the engagement of the Princess Royal to Prince Frederick William of Prussia, in 1856. In 1846 Johnstone & Jeanes started to work on patents for new methods of giving extra support to chair backs and in 1848 produced a rosewood patented Coulson’s easy chair. The firm later became Johnstone and Norman or Johnstone, Norman & Co., 1880-1900. In 1884 they made a remarkable set of furniture, designed by Alma Tadema, for the American millionaire, Henry G Marquand. Apart from these special commissions the firm were general cabinet-makers; for example a display cabinet, c.1865, walnut, moulded, carved and fret-sawn, and a writing table, c.1870, satinwood, incised, carved and inlaid, with gilt bronze mounts, both formerly in the Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read collection. The writing table now at the Higgins Art Gallery and Museum, Bedford [HAGM:F.78]. In 1889 the firm refurnished parts of Windsor Castle and in December 1891 sold a set of ‘patent circular Dining tables’ for use there. A patent for a version of the expanding table was taken out in the USA, in advance of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where they exhibited prominently. However, by 1894 the firm was financially failing and was taken over in mid-1894 by Morant & Co., although the firm’s name continued to be used until c.1911.

Sources:  Aslin, 19th Century English Furniture (1962); Agius, British Furniture 1880-1915 (1978); Joy, ‘The Royal Victorian Furniture-Makers, 1837-87’, The Burlington Magazine (November 1969);  Kirkham, ‘The London Furniture Trade’, Furniture History (1988) p.131-2; Levy, ‘Charles Fraser, 1813-1818, and the Stock-in-Trade Sale, 1819’, Furniture History (1989); Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996);

Wallis, ‘A Hand-List of the Handley-Read Collection’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present  (2016); Gere, ‘Charles Handley-Read as a Collector in his own Words’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present (2017); Morris, ‘A Patent Worth Protecting: Jupe’s Improved Expanding Dining Table’, FHS Newsletter (February 2018).