Pratt, Samuel jnr.
London; founder of the Architectural Carving Company (fl.1843-46))
Son of Samuel Pratt of 47 New Bond Street. In 1842 Samuel jnr. entered into a business arrangement with William Irving, having recognised the potential of Irving’s patent for wood and stone carving. Within a few years it had become known as Pratt’s Patent and operated from a Pimlico foundry as The Architectural Carving Works. The machine employed rotary heads for roughing out and moulding wood to be finished by hand.
In 1846 the Company lost the contract for carving at the new Palace of Westminster to Jordan’s competing patent, but Pratt’s ‘Patent Carving Works’ were nevertheless said to be flourishing ‘with many machines in constant operation’. The company advertised in The Builder of March 1847 (illus. Allwood, Furniture History (1996) fig. 1).
Examples of work produced by Pratt’s machine include a screen at Great Malvern Church, a roof at Ravensworth Castle, and in a new church in Camberwell. Elizabethan-revival furniture in oak, rosewood and other woods was also made by the firm using the carving machines.
Sources: Kirkham, ‘London Furniture Trade’, Furniture History (1988), pp. 112-13; Allwood, ‘Machine Carving of the 1840s, and the Catalogue of the Patent Wood Carving Company, Furniture History (1996).