‘The Seven Stars’, 2 Gt Tower St, London; cabinet maker and upholder (b.1736–d. 1802)
Free of the London Upholders’ Co., 6 March 1771 under the terms of the 1750 Upholders’ Act. Does not appear in London directories until 1777. His trade card states that he made and sold ‘Desks & Book Cases, Chests of Drawers, Poureaus & all Sorts of Looking Glass frames. Also, Venetian, Spring & all other sorts of Window Blinds, Mahogany, Walnut-tree & other Chairs Breakfast, Dining & Card Tables, Tea Chests, Tea Boards, Waiters &c.’. He also sold carpeting and floor cloth, appraised goods and undertook funerals. Initially he may have been associated with John Speer his cousin, who traded for part of the time at the same address as a joiner and cm. The Rococo frames of the trade cards of these two makers are identical. George Speer died in 1802 though his name appears in Sheraton's Cabinet Dictionary, 1803 in the list of master cabinet makers. It is possible that his son, George jnr continued the business.
A bureau cabinet obtained by the V&A Museum in 1980 is believed to have been supplied by George Speer on 30 September 1761 although the original invoice is no longer traceable. This piece of furniture does, however, closely resemble a number of drawings by George Speer which were reproduced in an article by Anthony Coleridge in Apollo. A mahogany kneehole desk and a secretaire bookcase with glazed doors are also known with George Speer's trade label attached (Figs 35–36). A mahogany side table of about 1770 with the printed Iabel of George Speer is in the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle. (illus., Kirkham, Furniture History (1988), figs 28 and 29). A labelled mahogany bureau bookcase and a serpentine chest of drawers are illustrated in Gilbert (1996), figs 876-877, sold Sotheby’s 13 Nov 1987, lot 48 and 1 Feb 1980, lot 128.
Source: DEFM; Kirkham, ‘The London Furniture Trade 1700-1870’, Furniture History (1988);Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996).