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Iconic Designs: Whytock and Reid

Established in 1807 by Edinburgh businessman Richard Whytock, the furniture-making firm became ‘Whytock and Reid’ when he formed a partnership with John Reid in 1876. If you’ve lived in Edinburgh, you might have seen their workshop based in Sunbury House, Belford Mews (near Dean Village).

Whytock earned his first warrant from Queen Victoria in 1838 (similar to the one seen above), and the recognition of their craftsmanship continued until their doors closed in 2004. Their clients were from various walks of life; from the Royal Family and some of the largest public projects across Scotland, to country houses and family homes.

Whytock and Reid also collaborated with prolific architect and furniture designer Sir Robert Lorimer for over 30 years – you can find out more about the Lorimer influence here.

This marble top secretaire a abbatant by Whytock and Reid has all of their classic qualities and is one of the finest examples we have in our warehouse. Circa 1900, it is made in the Louis XVI style and retains the original Whytock & Reid locks by Langebearg & Co, Birmingham, and has a receipt for alterations from Whytock & Reid on 25 October 1955.

We are proud to have one of the biggest collections of Whytock and Reid furniture in the UK. You can see their full range in our dedicated category.

A Short History of Mirrors

[The original version of this post was from our newsletter – 12 June 2020]

The mirror is not a modern invention but has instead been used since ancient times, from Egyptian mirrors in polished bronze (2900BC), to Chinese bronze mirrors dating as early as 2000BCE. The complete history of mirror production is fascinating but incredibly complex, and so for brevity we will start at the 15th and 16th century.

At that time, there was a large divide between mirrors of quality versus quantity – from the expensive and competitive pursuit of ‘crystalline’ glass between Germany and the Venetian Republic, to the cheaper, inferior small steel ‘mirrors’ which could be purchased from street vendors.

Throughout the 16th century, the Venetian mirror was considered the epitome of (costly!) fashion, especially in France – and King Francois I purchased several adorned with gold and precious stones. This Venetian technique used glass with a metallic backing and it became a practice adopted by craftsmen in London and Paris by the middle of the 17th century. These mirrors were a popular addition to room furnishings by this time – and their frame also became an important consideration. These ranged from painted, carved, gilded and ornament decorated.

Certain types of mirrors were also designed to suit the architecture of homes of the time, especially overmantel mirrors – created to fill the empty space between the mantelpiece and the ceiling. Girandole mirrors (like the one on the right) emerged in the 19th century and served a double purpose: with a convex sheet of glass in a circular frame, and candle arms attached, the candlelight would be reflected and illuminate the room.

We keep in stock as much variety as possible with these mirrors – and lately the more ornate, gilt overmantels have proved a popular choice.

For those wanting something a little smaller and narrower, we also have pier mirrors which were designed to fit on a ‘pier’ space (for example, a wall between two windows), and often above pier cabinets.

The Mirror: A History, Sabine Melchior-Bonnet, 1 February 2002
‘Mirror (Optics)’, Encyclopaedia Britannica, (


Easter Opening Hours 2019

It’s been a busy lead up to the Easter break this year for us at Georgian Antiques, but rest assured we will be open as usual!

Feel free to drop us an email or call in if you have any further queries!

Festive Opening Hours 2018

Planning on visiting us over Christmas and New Year? We’ll be closing for a brief break, but you can visit our warehouse on the following dates, or email through any enquiries as usual:

Monday 24 December (Christmas Eve): 8:30am – 1pm

CLOSED from Tuesday 25 December – Friday 28 December

Saturday 29 December: 10am – 2pm

CLOSED from Sunday 30 December – Tuesday 1 January

Wednesday 2 January: 10am – 2pm

Thursday 3 January: normal opening hours resume

Phyllis M. Bone: Animal Sculptor

Phyllis M Bone: Animal Sculptor

3-27 August 2018

Georgian Antiques celebrates 40 years in business by proudly presenting the first major exhibition of work by the sculptor Phyllis Bone RSA (1894-1972). Trained in Edinburgh and Paris, she is now remembered principally for her architectural sculpture of the 1920s, including the Scottish National War Memorial. An exceptional ‘animalier’, she earned her livelihood by exhibiting finely modelled pieces cast in bronze or plaster. In 1944 the quality of her work was acknowledged officially when she became the first woman elected a Royal Scottish Academician.

Remarkably, this exhibition is the first ever retrospective of her work. Collected over a 35 year period, it includes 36 display pieces in bronze and plaster covering a long and productive career from 1918 to the late 1960s. Also included are 9 works on paper made after she had moved from Edinburgh to Kirkcudbright, her home for her last 23 years. All works are from a private collection, so this will be the first time they are shown in one venue.

The exhibition will run as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018, at Georgian Antiques (10 Pattison Street, Leith EH6 7HF), viewing Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-2pm. A fully illustrated 64-page catalogue by art historian Elizabeth Cumming has been published to accompany the exhibition. You can purchase a catalogue (£10) via email:

1978-2018 The First Forty Years of Georgian Antiques

We’re excited to announce that as a big thank you for all of your support over the past 40 years we are having a sale!

All stock will be 20% off (excluding sale stock) for only 40 days.

It will run from 2 April to the 12 May 2018 and the discount will be on any antiques purchased from us in the warehouse or online.

This is only the 3rd time in the last 40 years that we have had a sale, so make sure to take advantage of the deal!

If you have any further queries don’t hesitate to drop us an email or give us a call. All prices displayed on the website are pre-sale and the discount will be applied on enquiry.


Easter Opening Hours 2018

Whilst the weather might be trying to keep the Easter Bunny away, we will be open as usual this long weekend. If you can’t make it to our warehouse feel free to email any enquiries over to us (via the contact form here) and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

We hope you have a happy and safe Easter break!

Antique Davenports: The Perfect Desk For The Modern Home?

It Began With Gillows…

The term ‘davenport’ is first noted in Gillows’ Cost Books in the 1790s. Gillows were a prosperous cabinetmaking firm operating out of Lancaster and London from the 1730s to the 1840s. The term appeared in the phrase ‘Captain Davenport, a desk’ next to a design of it. This became one of their most famous inventions.

The Gillows company records consist of journals, day books, waste books, bill books, cash books, ledgers and more. They date from 1731-1986 and are currently housed in The City of Westminster Archives Centre.

The Gillows archive is an important piece of history, as it is the most complete set of records for any British furnituremaking firm.

We aim to always have a selection of Gillows, or Gillows style, furniture in stock. If in doubt, try looking for the Gillows makers label – as you’ll see, you can find one stamped to the drawer of this George II Style Mahogany Card Table. The firm began using the ‘Gillows Lancaster’ stamp after 1780.

Davenport Designs:

Some key characteristics of davenports include a gallery around the top, leading on to a sloping lid, most often opening up to reveal a storage space. Some davenports are also fitted with a spring-loaded section to the top and a combination of drawers to the sides (both real and dummy drawers).

Many furniture makers became more inventive with davenport designs over time, with pull out fronts, rotating top sections, and decorative inlaid patterns. They also expanded it from being a contained, rectangular unit, to adding cabriole legs and pedestal bases.

There are several examples of davenports found in museum collections worldwide, including this Victorian davenport desk, circa 1840, in satinwood and with marquetry panels (Shrewsbury Museums Service).

Although at one stage very collectable, they’ve recently been over-shadowed by writing tables, and partners desks.

However, davenports have a distinct advantage: their size.

Compact, and offering plenty of hidden storage, they are a brilliant alternative for homes that are short on space. The variety of davenports available also show the creativity of Regency cabinetmakers and their successors. In our warehouse we have focused on acquiring davenports that are made in quality materials and are in excellent condition. You can see more of these here.

Piano Top Davenports:

Whilst some davenports have a sloping lid with the writing surface to the top (often in leather), other furnituremakers excelled at creating piano top davenport desks. 

Named after the curved shape and form of pianos, they will usually have a hinged lid which opens up to reveal a series of compartments and a retractable writing slide. We have a couple piano top examples currently available, including these two mid-Victorian burr walnut davenports. Both have the benefit of hidden storage underneath their curved lid, with drawers and compartments for pens and antique inkwells – or quills if you are really inclined!

To open their ‘jack in the box’ section in the top you only need to pull forward a small button in the writing drawer (inside the hinged lid).

Sliding Tops & Rosewood

Rosewood timber is native to Brazil, Honduras, Jamaica and India, and due to the slow growth rate of these trees is a prized material, and distinguishes quality furniture. During the Regency period it was exported to the United Kingdom from Brazil, Jamaica and Honduras, and whilst it has a characteristic dark brown colour with streaks and grains it can be hard to manipulate and work (it has a high oil content).

William IV Rosewood DavenportWe have almost every type of furniture in rosewood in our warehouse – from large William and Mary period Indo-Dutch cabinets, to bookcases, chiffoniers and breakfast tables. One notable example is this William IV rosewood davenport, which also has a three quarter gallery in rosewood as well as the main body. At only 64 cm deep when closed, the top can then slide forward to allow for it to be more like a desk – floating over the knees of the person sitting at it.

It is the perfect space for storing or using a laptop, which can then be closed and used as a writing desk (if you still use pen and paper like we do!)

This davenport also features the stamp of ‘M. Willson, 68 Great Queen Street’ to one of its drawers. This is the stamp of Mary and Matthew Willson, the wife and son of Thomas Willson who was a furniture broker and appraiser in London (operating 1799-1854). You can see more of this davenport here.

If you’ve visited our warehouse you’ll know that this is only a small offering of the variety of davenport desks that we have available.

These distinctive, quality items of furniture would be a brilliant addition to any home office, or for someone looking for a unique place to use and store their iPad, laptop or Kindle Fire.

Because who said that new technologies and antiques can’t mix?

British Antique Furniture by John Andrews, 2011
British and Irish Furniture Makers Online – Gillow (1730-1840)
Rosewood – Tree and Timber –


Festive Opening Hours 2017

Looking to visit us over the festive period? We’ll be closing for a brief break, but checking our emails regularly. Feel free to send through any enquiries as usual, or come to our warehouse on the following dates:

Saturday 23 December: 10am – 2pm

CLOSED from Sunday 24 December – Friday 29 December

Saturday 30 December: 10am – 2pm

CLOSED Sunday 31 December and Monday 1 January 2018

Tuesday 2 January 2018: 10am – 2pm

Wednesday 3 January 2018: Normal opening hours resume.

Scottish Clockmaking: A Brief History

From the 15th century onwards public clocks had been erected in the squares and local spaces of larger towns around Scotland, from Peebles to Dundee. The mechanisms of these early clocks were produced overseas, and it wasn’t until the late 15th century to early 16th century that British clockmakers became competent in making and repairing clocks. As the practice developed, an area in Edinburgh was dedicated to their trade, Clock Maker’s Land in the West Bow, which most notably housed the workshop and residence of the watchmaker and horologist Paul Roumieu, 1677-94. His craftsmanship has been recorded in documents of the time, praising the quality of his movements and pieces.

This example of a timepiece by Roumieu resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York collection.

Scotland has produced some prolific clock makers since then, and here we will see how their clocks have developed over time.

John Gibson

John Gibson was active in Edinburgh from 1758-80 and was the bound apprentice to the watch and clockmaker located in Nether Bow, Edinburgh, Daniel Binnie (recorded as active from 1747-79). The Edinburgh Evening Courant mentions Gibson’s work on 1st October 1808:

‘Valuable Musical Clock For Sale… Made by John Gibson, an eminent maker in this city, and is mounted in an elegant mahogany case…  This clock would be a great acquisition to the hall of a mansion house’

We have an example of a Gibson longcase clock at our warehouse (as seen above), and it is a brilliant example of his skill at his trade. It is a typical example of an Edinburgh longcase clock, with a horn top, flame mahogany door, and mahogany case. Dated circa 1775, the silver face has been engraved and blackened, with John Gibson, Edin. below the hands, and features a calendar and Roman numerals.

Engraved to the face are sea horses or hippocampus, with the upper body of a horse and the lower body of fish and webbed paws. These mythical creatures have been seen in similar designs on heraldry since the Renaissance.

The raised pediment to the top of the clock would have been surmounted by a sphere or gilded eagle, and at each side of the door are tapering columns. It all stands on squat bracket feet. There are often variations across Edinburgh longcase clocks, including the inclusion of fretwork, or capitals to the top of the columns. Outside of London, Edinburgh longcase clocks were desirable because of their sleek, elegant look and thin, long door. We have several other examples, including:


George IV Grandfather Clock by J. Melrose, Edinburgh – operated from the Canongate or Nicolson Street in Edinburgh, circa 1826.


In the late 19th century, appreciation of clocks grew, and resulted in a demand for the best examples of the trade. Jumping forwards to recent times, there have been efforts to emphasise the value of UK-made clocks, especially in a market flooded with internationally made examples. We have a longcase clock by Alan Hamshere, completed in 1984, which featured in the exhibition Clock and Watchmaking Today at the Prescot Museum of Clock and Watchmaking in 1985.

Clockmaking Today

With a case veneered in birds-eye maple wood, and a weight driven movement, the clock has a dial divided into two parts: the lower part has a ring with 12 months of the year, the upper part is similar. The sophisticated dial has several functions and to fully comprehend its movements you would need to talk to Alan himself. This clock shows the complexity of modern Scottish clocks, and how they have developed from Georgian tastes to this timepiece.

Wanting to see more examples of Scottish clockmaking? We have several examples from 1775 to the 1900s, from the east to the west coast, with all sorts of distinctive features: horn tops, bow doors, flat tops and drum heads.

The variety is amazing and the quality is second to none, so if you have some time to spare, feel free to come and see our selection in the warehouse.