The British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO) project is a partnership between the Institute of Historical Research and the Furniture History Society. Our mission is to serve as the one-stop definitive resource for British and Irish furniture makers from the beginning of the 16th century to the onset of the Great War, by providing the details of furniture manufacturers and suppliers: their organising structures, their clientele, the material they produced and the services they provided.
We hope you will enjoy the second version of the BIFMO resource. The first database included only two sources, a digitised version of the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 and London Joiners’ Company apprenticeship bindings and freedom admissions, 1640-1720. We are now working to extend the date range of the Joiners’ Company data. Soon the apprenticeship bindings in BIFMO will run to 1820 and freedom admission to 1804, the last year recorded in the Joiners’ freedom admission manuscripts.
Our editorial team is currently revising and updating biographies from the Dictionary and writing entirely new accounts of furniture makers across Britain and Ireland, 1600-1914, informed by published material in journals and books over the past thirty-five years. The newly entitled Dictionary of British and Irish Furniture Makers now incorporates both the original biographies from the Dictionary, which have yet to be updated, along with the new accounts. BIFMO also now includes The Dictionary of Edinburgh Furniture Makers, 1660-1840, compiled by the late Francis Bamford, A Dictionary of Norfolk Furniture Makers, 1700-1840, by Dr John Stabler, and Cliff Webb’s transcriptions of the London Upholders’ Company, 1704-1772. In the coming months we will also be adding Bernard and Geraldine Cotton English Chair Makers, 1690-1937.
The newly redesigned search facility makes it possible to carry out both simple and analytical queries. At the most basic level it acts as a searchable directory of furniture makers and associated trades, providing access to names, occupations, dates, the locations of artisans and tradespeople, the products they supplied and the clients and patrons they served. However, BIFMO now also has the ability to carry out statistical and quantitative queries to inform social and economic analysis, such as identifying where particular trades were situated at a specific date, or over a period of time, making it possible to analyse the growth of the trade and the increase or reduction in a specific type and/or style of furniture, thus indicating a change in fashion and consumer demand or how furniture making networks operated, including subcontracting specific aspects of the manufacturing process for efficiency and cost effectiveness.