One of our Superb Large Antique Partners Desks

Friday, 31 July 2015

Antique Desks by Shapland & Petter Barnstaple UK

This is an extract from our website -

To read more about this and 14 other famous antique desks makers please go to our "Famous Desk Makers" web page

Antique Desks by Shapland & Petter Barnstaple UK

The company was established by Henry Shapland (b. 1823), a cabinet maker by trade. Henry Petter was an accountant who entered into partnership with Mr Shapland. In 1864 they bought the Raleigh Factory in Barnstaple, Devon. Iin 1888 the building burnt down but was immediately replaces by a bigger factory which included many modern inventions.


The two Henrys died within two years of each other - Petter in 1907 and Shapland in 1909. In 1924 Shapland and Petter merged with the Barnstaple Cabinet Company, producing North Devon's biggest industry. During the First World War Shapland's skilled craftsmen turned their hands to wooden propellers for the aircraft of the Royal Flying Corps. After the war, public tastes changed, and hand carved furniture was too expensive for many. Shapland's output now included elegant veneered pieces with smooth Art Deco lines. The company fitted out Pullman carriages and ocean liners and made hand-carved church furniture. The famous England Rugby Captain W. W. Wakefield was appointed Company Director in 1927. Throughout the depression of the late 1920's and early 1930's the company still managed to produce high quality work.

Furniture manufacturing continued until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. After the war came radio cabinets and laboratory and contract furniture, until eventually large quantities of doors were being produced for hospitals, hotels, schools, offices and other buildings.

Shapland and Petter were renowned for excellent design and workmanship. Much of the work involved intricate leaded glass panels, or inlaid fruitwood designs, like the white bedroom suite shown in the exhibition here. This type of work is typical of Art Nouveau 1895 to 1910, inspired by the fluid shapes of plants and flowers. Many pieces were made from standard designs. There were hundreds to choose from, and a selection could be seen in local and London showrooms and in catalogues. Although mass-produced, this furniture was well-made by skilled technicians and modern machinery.
Inlaid Oak Writing Desk by Shapland and Petter
43" (109cm) Inlaid Oak Writing Desk by Shapland & Petter c1900
Antique Mahogany Writing Desk by Shapland & Petter
48" (122cm) Mahogany Writing Desk by Shapland & Petter c1900

Monday, 6 July 2015

Antique Desks and Antique Office Furniture by Heals (Heal and Son) of London

Heal & Son (“Heals”) has a distinguished history in furniture manufacture and retailing since its establishment as a furniture store by John Harris in 1810. The firm was first located in Tottenham Court Road, London in 1811 and, by the middle of the 19th century, had begun to move from its original focus on beds to include bedroom furniture. By the 1880s its activities had expanded to include a new department for sitting room furniture. In 1893 Ambrose Heal joined the family business and for the next 60 years played an important role in building the reputation of the firm as a leading London retailer of good quality interior design and furniture. In the years before the First World War he helped promote an arts and crafts ethos in many of the products sold by the company. has a large archive of information and photos of all the antique desks and antique office furniture that we have sold over the past 20 years that we have been trading online. Extracts from this archive can be viewed on the Antique Desks Archive pages on our website.

In addition we also highlight some of the desks made by famous antique furniture makers that we have sourced and sold.  Examples of these can be viewed on our Famous Desk Makers Pages.

Examples of two immaculate pieces by Heals (Heal and Son) that we have recently sold are shown below.

Antique Mahogany Writing Table by Heal & Son
48" (122cm) Victorian Mahogany Writing Table by Heal & Son

Antique Mahogany Pedestal Desk by Heal & Son
48" (122cm) Mahogany Pedestal Desk c1900-1910 by Heal & Son