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Gordon Russell cabinet and chest – £5300 at Sworders.

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Married to the Sheffield silversmith and designer David Mellor (1930-2009), whom she first met when conducting an interview in 1967, MacCarthy’s background as a journalist for House and Garden and The Guardian lay the foundations for seminal works on CR Ashbee, the Omega Workshops, William Morris, Eric Gill and Stanley Spencer.

Her final book, Walter Gropius: Visionary Founder of the Bauhaus, was published in 2019.

Oak furniture

MacCarthy and Mellor’s love of the Arts & Crafts was evident in the 16 lots at Sworders (25% buyer’s premium) in Stansted Mountfitchet on May 4-5.

Alongside kilims and hand woven rugs were pieces of oak furniture by leading practitioners of the movement including three Gordon Russell ‘Stow’ pattern chests from the 1920s.

All carried labels for Russell Workshops at Broadway in Worcestershire including details of the materials, design numbers and the names of the workshop carpenters who made them.

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Label from Gordon Russell cabinet and chest – £5300 at Sworders.

They included an English oak two-part cabinet and chest with four drawers and panelled cupboards (top) with the design number X113, the cabinetmaker G Beadle and the date May 18, 1929 (label shown above).

According to records held at the Gordon Russell Museum, this was a special order and a unique commission made for one Mrs Laws. Special orders such as this only started in 1929 so this can be considered among the first.

Estimated at £3000-5000, it took £5300.

A ‘Stow’ pattern oak chest of four drawers (design No. 609) with laburnum carved handles sold at £5100 while an ensuite dressing cabinet of two drawers below a pair of cupboard doors took £3000.