As with any highly fashionable product, it has become advisable to approach them with the sort of caution auctioneer Henry Cooke applied when describing the pair of armchairs illustrated here as ‘Howard & Sons style’ in Mallams’ (25% buyer’s premium) catalogue for the March 28-29 Abingdon sale.
Howard & Sons, founded in 1820, still makes the type of furniture it produced when it was the pre-eminent firm of upholsterers and makers based in Soho.
Authentic turn-of-the-century pieces are the most keenly sought today, regularly selling in five figures, and one of the pair at Abingdon bore an ivorine label for Howard & Sons Manufacturers 25, 26, 27 27 Berners Street, London, W, to one of the walnut cabriole back legs. The underside of the second chair had signs of where a label had been pinned.
However, neither bore the usual company stamp to a leg, and Cooke considered the possibility that Howard & Sons may have upholstered, or re-upholstered, the 2ft 6in (77cm) wide chairs but not manufactured them.
Bidders either had more confidence or were happy to have any Howard connection. Estimated at £1500-£3000, the chairs sold to a private buyer at £11,500 – a solid enough price considering both needed restoration and reupholstery.