AFTER nearly 50 years as a dealer, Tobias Jellinek makes no apology for having written what he describes as “a practical book” about early English chairs, stools and other seating rather than a furniture history book.
This experience-led approach is outlined in the introduction:
"When asked by a would-be collector in around 1915 how he could
learn about 'old furniture', one furniture expert gave the simple
answer, "Buy some". It is a trifle more complicated than that but,
without some degree of commitment, I believe it is hard to learn
about early furniture."
He has personally handled most of the pieces he illustrates and
helped to form many of the collections from which they are drawn.
The result is a catalogue of chairs grouped according to type
(enclosed armchairs, armchairs with single back panel, etc) which
he is confident are genuine examples of their
This is a useful service. Early oak suffered grievously at the
hands of fakers, fantasists and embellishers in the earlier, less
scrupulous days of antiques dealing and his section on the
activities of the Wardour Street craftsmen in the 18th and 19th
centuries will be salutary reading for the untutored oak
His guide to dating early oak analyses the importance of patina,
wear, restoration and worm damage under the general assumption that
"old things look old" and that anything that looks too good to be
true probably is.
Old oak, with its uniform dark patina, is notoriously difficult
to photograph. Despite the fact that almost every piece was
photographed specially for this publication, there are many
instances where surface detail has been lost in the printing and
more enlargements of key features mentioned in the descriptions
would have been a welcome addition.
- Early English Chairs and Seats, 1500-1700 by Tobias
Jellinek, Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN13: 9781851495818 ISBN
1851495819 500 colour illus. 328 pages, £50 hardback.