18C British Mahogany and Satinwood Bureau

18C British Mahogany and Satinwood Bureau.

George III Period ….. REGENCY ERA !!!

Really nice and interesting piece !!

Beautiful Cuban mahogany inlaid with satinwood and ebony herringbone stringing.

Gorgeous 200 year old patina !!

Originally would have been a harpsicord/square piano, but as the use of harpsicord’s died out in the late 18th Century and more classically shaped piano’s came back into vogue, it was converted in the very early 19th Century for more practical use as a Bureau or stationary/writing desk.

The top lid lifts in 3 sections, to reveal a lovely writing area with several drawers and stationary cubbie-holes and the makers porcelain Label (see photo).

The entire top unit sits on top of a 4 legged base unit.

Makers mark and label on desk interior……Broderip & Wilkinson, Haymarket, London.

The original piece would be circa 1775……the conversion circa 1800.

Broderip & Wilkinson operated at the Haymarket address until 1807.

George Wilkinson (5 November 1783 – 1855) was an English music publisher, and piano and candle manufacturer.

Wilkinson was the youngest son of Charles Wilkinson. In 1797 he apprenticed to London music seller and publisher Francis Broderip, former partner in Longman & Broderip piano manufacturing business which had gone bankrupt in 1795. In 1805 Wilkinson took over his oldest brother Charles’ half partnership in the company, which reorganized doing business as Broderip & Wilkinson until Broderip’s death in 1807, after which Wilkinson purchased his partner’s shares to form Wilkinson & Co. at 3 Great Windmill Street.

By 1808 Wilkinson had arranged for Astor and Leukenfeld[1] to manufacture upright, cabinet pianos licensed from William Southwell’s patent (EN 3029, 1807). These instruments (like Petzold & Pfeiffer’s harmomelo) were conceived to support the strain of the strings with strong, continuous frames in order to keep better in tune than competing arrangements. Wilkinson & Co. confidently offered a twelve month guarantee for workmanship and tuning, and consequently they were obliged to furnish better replacements when the pianos were found not to “stand well.”

In 1810 Wilkinson sold his publishing stock to Thomas Preston, and borrowed £12,000 from his father to enter in a partnership with his foreman Robert Wornum, who had invented improvements in small upright pianos including diagonal stringing and compact actions (EN 3419, 1811). Wilkinson & Wornum established a factory and showrooms near Hanover Square at 315 Oxford street and 11 Princes street, with a lumber yard in the space between them. The warehouse, factory and stables were destroyed by fire in 1812, putting out as many as 70 workmen, and leaving debts over £16,500 with little relief from insurance. In 1813 the partnership dissolved and the company assigned to Wilkinson’s father, who excused the partners’ debts and made small guarantees to their other creditors. Wornum established another factory, first at 3 Welbeck Street, and that year introduced a vertically strung harmonic pianoforte better known as the cottage piano.

In late 1813 Wilkinson leased a house at 32 Howland Street, and by 1816 he established a piano factory behind the house, as well as 315 Oxford Street and added showrooms at New Bond Street. This business continued at least through 1830, making at least cabinet upright pianos (praised by Pleyel in 1815) and grand pianos.

Wilkinson entered a partnership with Ferdinand Hirschfeld, and made a specialty manufacturing patented candles with compressed tallow for fuel in order to prevent sputtering and metal wicks to avoid need for snuffing, but these were marketed unsuccessfully. Hirschfeld and Wilkinson, wax chandlers, and oil and spermaceti refiners, at Windsor Terrace, City Road were listed bankrupt 31 July 1835.

In 1854 he left London for Milford Haven avoiding the outbreak of cholera, and died there of a stroke in 1855.

Wilkinson married Elizabeth Cecilia Mary Broadhurst on 23 September 1809. Their children were Ann (1814-1814), Emma (1815–1889), Matilda (1817–1876), Oriana (1818–1853), Louisa (1820-), Alfred Broadhurst Wilkinson (1822–1854), and Henry Broadhurst Wilkinson (1824-). He is buried in Steynton Churchyard.

Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Wilkinson_(music_publisher)


18C British Mahogany and Satinwood Bureau.

Provenance: Bought at Auction in Ireland from a Country House Estate.

Dimensions: 32″ Tall, 64.5″ wide and 24″ deep

Condition: Fair. In need of some restoration. The base needs some stabilization. It is missing cross supports between the legs. A few cracks, minor losses and blemishes through age, but not serious. Missing some medallions on the leg corners.

Price Now: $2,600.

18C British Writing Bureau - Converted Harpsicord - Broderip & Wilkinson, London

18C British Mahogany Bureau (2)

18C British Mahogany Bureau (3)

18C British Mahogany Bureau

18C British Writing Bureau - Converted Harpsicord - Broderip & Wilkinson, London 5

18C British Writing Bureau - Converted Harpsicord - Broderip & Wilkinson, London 2

18C British Writing Bureau - Converted Harpsicord - Broderip & Wilkinson, London - closed

18C British Writing Bureau - Converted Harpsicord - Broderip & Wilkinson, London 5

18C British Writing Bureau - Converted Harpsicord - Broderip & Wilkinson, London 4

18C British Writing Bureau - Converted Harpsicord - Broderip & Wilkinson, London 3

2 Comments on “18C British Mahogany and Satinwood Bureau

  1. Hello, I find this piece intriguing but I’m a bit confused about the label and when it was converted to a bureau. Your information states that Broderip & Wilkinson, Haymarket, London were only in business at that address from 1805-07, but also state that it would’ve been converted to a bureau circa 1800. Were they still making harpsichords at this late date, and how can you tell if it wasn’t converted during the Victorian era? Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Scott,
      Yes, this is an intriguing piece.
      It is impossible to say for certain when it was converted. The estimate of ‘1800’ is very much a generic estimate. I would say that it was probably converted some time between 1805 and 1820. I do not think it was a Victorian conversion, as most harpsichord cases had stopped production and fallen out of fashion, long before Queen Victoria came to reign in 1837.
      The fact that the conversion purposefully included the Broderip & Wilkinson label could be an indicator and I think it could very well have been converted by them, as the label was really a retail label.Possibly a ‘last gasp’ attempt by the company to sell their existing stock of harpsichord cases.
      I hope this helps.
      Rockwell Antiques Dallas

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