Pratt, Samuel, Henry & Samuel Luke
London; upholders, invalid furniture and camp equipage manufacturers, cabinet makers & furniture dealers (fl.1813–78)
Samuel Pratt senior was listed as a ‘Trunk maker’ at 119 Holborn Hill (1815) and had another shop at 40 Holborn by 1819.
S. & T. Pratt, ‘Trunk Manufacturers’ were recorded at 123 New Bond Street and at 19 Cockspur Street (1832-46) and the firm later concentrated the business solely at the New Bond Street address. In September 1822, Samuel was awarded a patent for ‘the certain improved straps or bands, to be used for securing luggage upon chaises or coaches’.
S. Pratt was listed as an upholsterer in the Windsor Castle accounts in April 1830, being owed the sum of £151 6s, and was recorded in the Lord Chamberlain’s papers as a trunk maker (1832-45). Samuel and his elder son, Henry, were listed as ‘furniture & china dealers’ at 47 New Bond Street in 1839 and in the late 1830s held at an exhibition at ‘The Gothic Hall’, 3 Lower Grosvenor Street of ancient armour, a trade for which the firm became renowned. Their billhead stated that they were military equipage makers, upholsterers and writing and dressing case manufacturers to their Majesties. They also featured ‘Elastic Beds, Easy Chairs &c. Stuffed with Iron Wire’, ‘Patent folding Brass Camp Bedsteads’, ‘Patent Stuffed Recumbent Chairs’ and leather trunks and carrying cases of a wide range of different types.
Samuel Pratt was probably an upholder recorded in New Bond Street (1813–30) and best known as the patentee of the coil upholstery spring (pat. Nos 5418 & 5668) but also worked as makers or dealers. The earliest recorded transaction was the supply of eighteen chairs for Kilniddery, County Wicklow, Ireland (1813) at a cost of £75 12s. In December 1833 they supplied a chaise longue to Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire at £13 13s and in March 1834 a patent sofa seat at £7. In May and June 1834 John Arkwright of Hampton Court, Leominster, Herefordshire also purchased goods to the value of £10 which included a set of mahogany French polished drawers costing £6 15s. Pratt also supplied furniture for Stafford House, London in 1838 amounted to £228.
By 1839 the type of trade carried on by the business may have changed considerably because in a directory of that year they are referred to as ‘Antique & Foreign Furniture Dealers’. In 1842 the firm was recommended by the architect William Burns to his patronO. Tyndall Bruce as a source of old oak carvings, and he supplied two ‘Elizabethan Oak Armchairs’ using seventeenth-century elements, to Sir James Kay Shuttleworth at Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire in 1852 [Westgarth, 2009, fig. 3]. He was listed as a purchaser at the sales at Strawberry Hill in 1842 and Stowe in 1848. Clients for furniture also included Lord Brougham (1844) and St Peter’s College, Radley (1847).
In a court case of 1824 Samuel senior stated that he lived in Regent Street, and had 3 houses; the Regent Street house, 47 New Bond Street and another unnamed property. An auction sale of ‘the collection of Mr S. Pratt’ took place at Oxenhams in 1846.
Samuel Pratt senior died in 1849. His two sons, Henry Joseph Pratt and Samuel Luke Pratt (1805-78) both continued as dealers of ancient armour and curiosities, and also invalid furniture manufacturers, trading from various premises.
Samuel Pratt junior, upholsterer and cabinet maker, was listed in the London Post Office Directory (1845) at 47 New Bond Street and 3 Grosvenor Street.
Henry was listed as ‘patent travelling wardrobe, portmanteau & camp equipment manufacturer’ at 19 Cockspur Street and 123 New Bond Street (1852), whilst Samuel Pratt jnr. was listed separately as an ‘importer of ancient furniture & armour’ at the New Bond Street address (1840s); and as ‘cabinet maker and importer of antique furniture’ (1852); and ‘antique furniture dealer’ in 1860 & 1870.
Samuel junior’s clients included the Earl of Warwick (1852-70s); Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks (later Lord Tweedmouth) (1856-74); Charles Winn (porcelain); the 4th Marquess of Hertford and Ralph King-Milbanke, 2nd Earl of Lovelace (1878).
In December 1858 Samuel Luke Pratt (upholsterer) at 47 New Bond Street, was declared bankrupt in September 1852 and applied for adjudication in bankruptcy against him to be set aside and this was granted.
Henry Joseph Pratt (trunk maker) at 123 New Bond Street’ was declared bankrupt in May 1855 and this may have led to him leaving the partnership because he is recorded as the manager of the ‘Gallery of Antiquities and Ancient Furniture’ of Samuel Clare in 1859.
Samuel Pratt died on 18 September 1878 (aged 73) and his remaining collections were sold at Christies’ on 19 & 20 February 1879.
Sources: DEFM; Kirkham, ‘London Furniture Trade’ Furniture History (1988), p. 121; Gow, ‘Mary Queen of Scots Meets Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Some Problems in the Historiography of the Scotch Baronial Revival’, Furniture History (1996); Westgarth, A Biographical Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Antique and Curiosity Dealers (2009), pp. 147-150; Spier, Between the Museum & the Market: John Hungerford Pollen, Furniture History (2021).