Monday, 26 August 2013

HOWARD's END? Unlikely!

    At the beginning of the last century, just as Maples, Liberty's and Heals were the top names for furniture and beds, so were Howards of Berners Street the best known for their upholstered seating.  They produced, from Victorian times, extremely well-made sprung chairs, sofas and stools with wonderfully comfortable feather/down cushions made to fit the frames.  They were close covered in a special trade fabric and the chair had the firm's logo carved on a leg or engraved on the casters. These chairs were built to last and there are still specialist dealers who re-cover them in traditional fabric.   They charge a lot for them, as this work can only be done by very skilled workers.    About twenty years ago there was a big demand for them from wealthy American and Australian buyers who were enlarging their 'mansions' and adding libraries and the big 3 and 4 -seater Howard sofas were highly prized and fetched thousands of pounds when done up.    The chairs were designed for large gentlemen who put their feet up after a good meal and had a quiet 'zizz' behind The Times newspaper.   Copies, with  fake logos, are now being made - such is the scarcity and cost of the originals.     
  I came across my own Howard chair in Brittany at a rather dull little country fair.  The stallholder saw me staring at it and vouchsafed that it had belonged to an old English lady and had the word  "Ow werd".on it.  What did that mean?   The chair was covered in what I call pre-war cinema plush in orange and black and looked ghastly!  He asked a hundred Euros for it and it was soon in my car on its way home to have a new (antique) cover made for it and now sits in my drawing room looking very comfy!  My clever upholsterer, who has done up many other Howard chairs, added her own little touch of four 'choux' rosettes on the arms and on the back,and I have a good needlework cushion to add.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful chair. I love the shape. The fabric is particularly lovely.