Covent Garden, London; cabinet maker (fl.1691–51)
George Nix was the son of Edward, a Citizen and Joiner of London. In 1691 he was apprenticed to Thomas Halfehide, also a member of the Joiners’ Company and subsequently turned over to the cabinet maker and marqueteur, Jaspar Bream, and made free on 1 August 1699.
He bound his first apprentice through the Joiners' Company in April 1703 (thus indicating he had established his own workshop) and is recorded for indenturing thirteen others between 1705-1735 at a premium ranging from £15-£48. He was described as a cabinet maker of St Paul's Covent Garden when indenturing an apprentice outside of the Joiners' Company on 24 April 1718, a Russian named Theo Martinoff, in consideration of £100 [TNA, IR 17, 1710-74].
On 22 February 1739/40 he was referred to as ‘Mr Nix ye Cabinet maker in King Street Covent Garden’. In the Memoirs of Sir William Jones, Lord Teignmouth (1806, vol. 1, p. 10) he was described as a London cabinet maker who ‘although of low extraction … raised himself to eminence in his profession and from the honest and pleasant frankness of his conversation was admitted to the tables of the great, and to the intimacy of Lord Macclesfield’.
In 1729 and 1730 Nix supplied a table, chair, close stool and corner cupboard to MOULSHAM HALL, Essex. Also, in 1729 he charged the Duchess of Montrose for a 4-leaf screen covered with ‘India paper’ while in 1732 the Duke of Montrose made a payment of £37 3s to a Mr Nix for his house at Cley, Norfolk. Nix supplied some mahogany tables to a Lord Monson in 1740 and in the following year charged for a kettle stand supplied for HOLKHAM HALL.
For HAM HOUSE he charged for a large range of items and repairs for the 4th Earl of Dysart over the period June 1729 to April 1734 at a cost of £430 13s 6d and his bill is the best source of information about the kind of goods he produced. The list of furniture supplied, from which several items can be identified, includes tables and chairs of all kinds, chests-of-drawers, close-stools, a bookcase, a reading desk, a firescreen, a dumb waiter (an early example of this type of furniture) and a chimneyboard, itemized as ‘white … grounded for Japaning’. He also charged for repairs to a number of dressing-and strong-boxes, to a crystal chandelier, a billiard table, the well-known ‘blackamore’ candlestands and other items. This bill also refers to ‘taking down the Great Book Case in Bond Street & Setting it up again in Arlington Street’ in December 1732 and in the following March to ‘taking the Great Bookcases to peices & carrying it to Grosvenor Square & fixing it up in the Hind Room’.
George Nix is said to have died in 1743, however business was still being carried on in 1751 under the same name, presumably by his son. This has yet to be proven [Harris, Old English Furniture, 1935]. An advertisement was published in the Daily Advertiser on 7 March 1744 for the sale of his stock at the Three King's in King Street, Covent Garden:
The Daily Advertiser, Advertisements and Notices, Friday February 10 1744, Issue 4077
Nix was also listed in a Westminster poll book, dated 24 February 1749 as 'George Nix of Long Acre a cabinet maker' and again in a Westminster rate book at the same address on Friday 24 November 1749 and once again at this address in 1751.
- MOULSHAM HALL, Essex (Earl Fitzwalter). 1728–32: Bills for 3 tables, an easy chair, 8 chairs ‘for Chinese Room’, a close stool and a corner cupboard. Total £26 11s.
- CLEY, Norfolk (Duke of Montrose). 1729: Receipted account to the Duchess of Montrose referring to repairs to an old screen and supplying a 4-leaf screen, covered with ‘India paper’. Total £3 16s. 1732: Payment to — Nix for chairs. Total £37 3s.
- BURTON HALL, Lincolnshire (Lord Monson). 1740: Bills for a mahogany tea board and two mahogany dining-tables. Total £5 3s
- HOLKHAM HALL, Norfolk (Earl of Leicester). 1741: Bill for a tea kettle stand £2 2s.
- HAM HOUSE, Surrey (Earl of Dysart). 1729–34: Bill for some 150 items totalling £430 13s 6d, from which the following can still be identified at the house. 1729: ‘For a Carved and Gilt Pictor frame £1. 10. 0. For two Peer Glasses £12. 0. 0.’ The pier glasses, in gilded Kentian frames with broken scroll pediments, and the little gilded Kentian picture frame, which encloses a fan painting, all have the unusual decorative motif of an anthemion attached to acanthus leaves at the corners. 1730: ‘For mending and pollishing a Rosewood Dressing Box, and a New Lock Ketch and key 12. 0. For a Rosewood frame for the Box £1. 5. 0.’ These items probably refer to the strong box referred to in 1683 as a ‘box wth. an extraordinary Lock’, of which the stand shows signs of renewal. 1730: ‘For mending and Pollishing a plainer box and a New key’, 10s. This is probably the box kept by the Duke of Lauderdale in his dressing room. 1730: ‘For 18 Hall Chairs painted and Varnished’, £18. These oak chairs, of sgabello type, are painted on the backs with the arms of the Tollemache family, surmounted by an earl's coronet. 1730: ‘For Sawing the top of an India Cabinett, and putting on a Deale top, and Japaning the top, and New Pollishing the Cabinett and Lackering all the brass work £3. 10. 0. For altering the Cabinett frame and New Gilding it £4. 10. 0. For makeing a Table of the top of a Cabinett and a Neat Japand frame for the Table £2. 15. 0. For a Leather Cover for the Table lined with flanell’, 6s. The Japanese lacquer cabinet and the table made from its top, with the addition of straight legs and frieze, both survive but the protective cover does not. 1730: ‘For a black frame Japand, for an India Tea Table and Gilding and mending the Table, where it was broak’, £1 5s. 1730: ‘For New Gilding and Japaning two fine India figures’, £4. This refers to the restoration of the well-known pair of ‘blackamore stands’. 1731: ‘For two Elbow Chairs on Casters’, £3 10s. These are probably the pair of wide armchairs (later to be called ‘love-seats’), covered with red and green cut velvet. No bill exists for the sofa and 18 chairs belonging to the same suite, but they may also have been supplied by Nix. 1731: ‘For mending an old Cabinett with Silver Corners, and other ornaments, and mending the frame, and four new black Balls, and lining the Inside with Cloth’, £1 10s. These are repairs to the Duke of Lauderdale's scriptor, which Nix fitted with four new feet and a new baize writing surface. 1731: ‘For New pollishing & Silvering a Glass and Cleaning & boyling the Silver, & new Silvering Ring hinges and Nayles, to Nayl the Silver on the frame’, £1 10s. This is a dressing glass with embossed silver mounts. March 1731/2 ‘a large library stool 3.0.0’ 1732: ‘For a large Wallnuttree Horse frame and fixing on the Needle work on the Inner frame & India paper on the back side’, £2 15s. This cheval screen has a panel of gros-and petit-point needlework on one side and Chinese painted paper on the other.
Sources: DEFM; Joiners’ Company Records; Collard, ‘A Design for Library Steps by Henry Keene’, Furniture History (1990); Lindey, ‘Apprenticeships in the London Joiners’ Company’, Regional Furniture (2008).