Saturday 2 September 2017

John Folgham, case and knife case maker.

John Folgham, case and knife case maker.

Whilst, visiting the wonderful National Trust Property Chastleton House ,which is just down the road from the shop, I noticed this fine Georgian Knife box which I hadn't recalled seeing before.

   This box with its serpentine front is much like like many that you will see in many country houses.So what made this box stand out you might ask ?  
     On the wall behind the box is the framed original invoice supplied by the maker John Folgham in 1787.

You can see from this that the box was bought by Arthur Jones Esq. who owned Chastleton at the end of the 18th century. the writing is a little tricky to read but lists the cutlery the box would hold as well as another item which I am trying to decipher. It appears to read " a neat **** Greywood Tea Caddy Varnish" . Interesting , that it seemed to be the fashion to call items "neat" during this period.    Not sure what the addition of 0 16 is for. Delivery ?   
Any ideas ?

Referring to The Dictionary of English Furniture makers,1660-1840 we see this on the maker:

Fascinating stuff. What would this equate to in modern times ? To give and idea of value I believe a housemaid would have been paid about £ 5 per annum in the 1770's.

by Simon Clarke.

Saturday 1 April 2017

Campaign or Military Chests - Beginners Guide Part 2.

Campaign or Military  Chests - Beginners Guide Part 2.

Where was it made ?

This can sometimes be a little tricky to the un-trained eye as a lot of campaign chests can at first glance all look the same. On closer inspection, following a few guidelines you should be able get a reasonable idea where a campaign chest was made.

We have had military chests made in England, Ireland, Scotland, Malta, Australia, China, India and some from places in the East and the colonies that we have not as yet been able to pinpoint.

Secretaire Campaign Chest by W. Day & Son.

China Trade Secretaire Chest

So what should you look for to determine the place of origin of a campaign chest ? The following indicators will give you some clues though it should be stressed that these are not hard and fast rules and there will be cases where single indicators will not give a definitive answer and a combination of these will be needed to provide an answer.

     When evaluating a campaign chest consider the following and it should be possible to work out where a campaign chest was made. Maker's name, timber, construction techniques, and hardware.

      If on inspecting your campaign chest you see a maker's name there will be a good chance you will be able to find out where they were based. If their details are on a label or stencil there is also likey to be their address. So look out for paper labels, ivory, ivorine or brass plaques, stencils or stamps. If only a name, a little research should provide more information on where a company were based. You will still need to follow the other indicators as its is possible a maker may have made chests at home and abroad. Be also aware that sometimes maker's marks can be fraudulent and not original to the piece.

Label on Seagrove Chest

Seagrove Chest

Occasionally, you may come across a British made chest that doesn't have a maker's name but on closer examination you may see pencil inscriptions. These are likely to be on the secondary timbers on the carcase or drawer bases or backs and can include cabinet maker's name, date, or merely a number given to a drawer or if it is for the top right or left side.

Pencil inscription on A&N CSL teak chest shown below.
The timber which a chest is made from can be a great indicator as to where a chest was made though it should be remembered that in most British cabinet making a lot of the primary timber used was imported. A lot of British chests will have been made from mahogany, teak and camphorwood . Timbers that were imported. Some campaign chests were made from blonde oak or walnut and that would be a fairly strong indicator to the chest being made in Britain as it would be highly unlikely that these timbers would be used abroad. To get a more accurate pointer to origin rather than looking at the primary timber used it is the secondary timbers used for back boards and drawer linings that give a far stronger provenance. As a general rule these will be native timbers to the place of construction. In British chests the use of oak, ash and deal were commonly used for secondary timbers in drawer construction though on some you will find mahogany also used. A good knowledge of different types of timber is obviously essential here.

Teak A&N CSL Cavalry chest.

Teak Anglo-Indian Chest.

In the knowledge of the different construction techniques used in British cabinet work and those used abroad we find some strong indicators as to where a chest was made. This, like the knowledge of timbers, can take a while to fully understand. 18th and 19th century British cabinet work is second to none in quality so generally easily recognisable.  For the novice a good starting point will be to inspect the dovetail joints on the drawer construction. A finely cut dovetail joint is easily distinguishable from a larger and sometimes far cruder colonial equivalent. Be aware though that by the end of the 19th century some British cabinet makers had embraced modern technology and had started to use machine cut dovetail joints that like the colonial equivalent will be larger and cruder. For the more experienced collector closer inspection of campaign chests construction will show a marked difference in those made in Britain and the colonies.

Fine British Dovetail Joints.

Machine cut Dovetail Joints.

A final great indicator to the whereabouts of where a chest may have been made is the metal hardware used by the maker on their chests. Though there are differences, both in style and manufacture in British made handles, corner pieces and brass strap-work and those made in the colonies this can be a difficult one to use as an indicator of construction origin. Apart from the lower quality sheet brass strap-work and lower grade skeletal handles found on some Anglo-Indian chests, differentiating between the British made and higher quality colonial brass work can be quite tricky. However locks can sometimes be an easier one to examine. A lot of British locks will provide a few clues that show they are British. There may be the maker's name which research can provide a whole host of information. They may have evidence of the reigning monarch with either a GR or VR indicating Georgian or Victorian period. You may also see "patent" or "4 lever" which are good signs they are British.   A note of caution though: it was quite common for British hardware to be exported to the colonies to be used in furniture made in that country.  Also, it is not unusual for locks to get replaced on chests. For this reason using just one of the above indicators should not be relied on to show where a campaign chest was made. However, using a combination of all of the above may help even the novice to get some idea of country of origin.

Original Lock on a Richard Millard Chest.

Main Lock to Secretaire drawer on the same chest.

         The study of origin of colonial chests is an area that still requires much research. Chinese Export chests may be easily distinguishable but it should be remembered that Chinese cabinet makers were working not only in China but right the way across to the west of Canton and into India. It can be possible to differentiate chests made by Chinese cabinet makers working in India through their quality, and the construction techniques used but the waters can get somewhat muddied. It is hoped in the future with more information coming to light that this should become easier and we will know which chests made in India were by local cabinet makers, Chinese cabinet makers or those made by English cabinet makers who had set up workshops in the country.

      Hopefully this will give you some help in tackling this somewhat complex issue and should enable you to at least determine if a chest is British made. As mentioned, moving on to the colonies may take a little more time and experience. You may also be able to use the above in considering other types of campaign furniture as most will be equally relevant to chairs, tables etc.

By Simon Clarke.

Saturday 18 March 2017

Campaign or Military Chests - Beginners Guide Part 1.

To those who have not studied campaign furniture understanding military or campaign chests can appear quite confusing. When was it made? Where was it made ? Is it original ? What timber is it ?
     We often come across military chests and other pieces of campaign furniture online that have descriptions that bear no resemblance to the piece in the photograph at all. Even antique dealers with many years experience fall foul of wanting a piece to be something that it is not or believe it to be much older than it actually is.
      I hope that some of the information provided here may help you make a more informed judgement.

To start off with a few common mis-conceptions:

    If a chest or other piece of furniture has carrying handles it must be campaign. It could be but not always. A lot of Georgian library furniture had wonderful substantial carrying handles but would never have been taken travelling. Can you imagine anyone taking a large astragal glazed bureau book case which has carrying handles to both top and bottom section on the Peninsula Wars ? We have certainly seen the top sections being sold as campaign purely because of the carrying handles. And what's this all about? A set of three Victorian mahogany campaign bookcases, mid-19th century

  19th century two part brass bound campaign chests should have carrying handles. ( The maker must have forgotten with this one so we'd better put some on. )

Chest by Gregory Kane with later added on carrying handles. Swiftly removed after its purchase.
Most mid to late 19th century campaign chest will not have side carrying handles as the chest would come with a couple of painted pine packing cases to transport the two sections. There are exceptions to this rule such as smaller Naval chests or Colonial chests. With experience you can tell if later handles have been added.

This chest splits in two so it must be campaign, right ? I recently came across a chest described as campaign that split in two that clearly was not. The explanation is quite simple and logical if you think about it. A lot of small cottages had narrow winding staircases. The solution to getting a large chest upstairs was what I would call the cottage chest. They tend to be Georgian and the main clue as to why they are not campaign is constructional. A true campaign chest whether it be Georgian or Victorian will be cabinet made with both sections having both top and base boards dovetailed into the sides for strength. The construction of a cottage chest will be different. The base of the top section and the top of the base section will be open with the two section fixed together with tenons or dowels fixed to the sides of the base section. These will slot into mortices in the sides of the top section. The chest below demonstrates this and is not the one I saw mis-labelled.

photo credit: Heather Cook Antiques.

All campaign chests should have flush handles, brass corners and strapwork and have turned feet that should be removable. Not quite.The above description would be what most people think of as a military chest which will date to the middle of the 19th century. The campaign chest evolved through the Georgian period and on into the 19th century. In the Georgian period the main premise for the maker was to make a domestic chest or other piece of campaign furniture easier to transport and stronger to survive the rigors this involved. The look would strongly resemble the domestic equivalent which is why it is not immediately obvious they are campaign. There may be a moulding to the top, swan-neck handles, wooden knobs or bracket feet.

Georgian campaign chest.
Note side handles have incorrect swan neck handles
attached to the back plates.

Most people's conception of a military chest.
This one by Seagrove.
Campaign chests were used by officers in the military fighting battles across the Empire. Certainly, a lot were owned officers who were not prepared to compromise their living standards with the furniture and travel accouterments they took with them on their travels. We have had many examples where we have had the owners details noted on the chest that bear testimony to this. However, a lot of chests and other pieces of campaign furniture belonged to the multitude of other travellers who were either supporting the Empire or travelling to the colonies. It should be remembered that certainly pre-1900 and the Golden Age of the ocean liner, cabins on board ships were unfitted. The solution to this was the cabin fitter who could, at the shortest notice, provide all that a traveller may require on their long voyage ahead.

  I hope that gives you a small insight into what you should be looking at when considering a campaign chest. As with any other type of antique if thinking about buying you are better off dealing with an expert. They know their specialty and you will get a piece that has been researched and correctly dated and described. You will also be paying what something is worth rather than buying something with a dubious description at a price that may not bear any relation to its true value. Just because a dealer is a specialist it doesn't equate that they are the most expensive merely that they know what the price should be as opposed someone guessing a number out of thin air. Prices of antiques will always be subjective with different dealers being able to charge more than others. Look online and see how the prices compare then decide who you feel more comfortable buying from.

By Simon Clarke.

Saturday 18 February 2017

The Cavalry Chest.

Why the Cavalry chest ? Though very likely this term was used prior to this we first came across the name in the Army & Navy Stores Catalogue of 1907.  It's name giving connotations of a superior model.
This teak example below matches the one pictured above in all aspects apart from size being a standard campaign chest size of 39 inches and has the A&N ivorine plaque to the top right drawer.

The listing notes a model that was available with a superstructure with mirror but this is not pictured on the page. We have had examples of this model and below is one that matched the description even down to the size of 3 ft. 9 inches.

One fact that isn't included in the description above and is worth noting is that timber that borders the leather adjustable writing area tends to be a veneer of an exotic timber. We have come across coramandel, rosewood and maple. This may have been an additional extra.

As with most pieces of standard campaign furniture from the mid 19th century onwards different makers made similar models to each other. Whether they called them Cavalry chests we cannot be sure until their trade catalogues come to light.

The following chest which sadly doesn't have a makers name on it is an interesting example that shows some unusual characteristics.

This chest has a number of small differences that set it aside from the A&N CSL model. It has inset brass carrying handles to the sides; the secretaire drawer is the first long drawer as opposed to the second; the writing section has a small campaign handle to lift it and is adjustable on a lectern foot instead of resting on the hinged stationery section and there isn't a secret compartment to the right of the secretaire but 3 inkwell sized divisions. However, perhaps the most important difference is that the fronts of the drawers are veneered in figured walnut, which is something we have not previously seen on this model of campaign chest.

By Simon Clarke.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Maynard & Co. A lesser known Campaign Furniture Maker.


Maynard & Co.

Military and General Outfitters and Agents.
27 , Poultry, Next to Mansion House.

Maynard & Co. are not one of the first names you would think of when considering makers of campaign furniture.  Though in business for almost 80 years , from 1814 to 1893, not many pieces by them have have surfaced. However, they were one of a number of companies who developed a business that could offer every assistance to the traveller to the East from booking their passage and selecting their cabin to supplying their portable furniture

We have come across a couple of chests by the maker both quite different which may back up the theory that they have bought in some of their stock and with the one below having features that are not seen in the other fairly standard types of construction found on chests made by other makers.

Mahogany campaign chest circa 1831.

The above chest has quite distinct handles and has an unusual bolt mechanism for holding the top and bottom in place. 

As time progresses I am sure more will come to light on this interesting company and will be recorded online on our makers file for Maynard & Co.

Simon Clarke.

Saturday 23 January 2016

The Victorian Army’s Cabinet Maker of Choice.

Ross and Co. of Dublin were one of the most important makers of campaign furniture in the Victorian era and justifiably, their name still stands out as a leader in their field, today.

With the rapid growth of the British Empire in the 19th century, came the increased movement of administrators, colonists and of course the Army and Navy. It was not uncommon for an officer to have what would now be considered a ridiculous amount of luggage. This is perhaps best explained by a diary entry dated 1813 by Lieutenant – Colonel William Tomkinson who noted why he equipped himself with 600 lbs of personal baggage while on duty in Spain during the Peninsular war: ‘[My equipment] may appear a large fit-out for a person going on service, but experience taught us that campaign after campaign was not to be got through without the things I have stated; and the more an officer makes himself comfortable, the better will he do his duty, as well as secure his own health, and the comfort of those belonging to him. It does not follow, that because we attempt the best in every situation that we cannot face the worst. The poorer the country the greater must be your baggage, from the length of time you are obliged to march without obtaining a fresh supply.’

James Ross Murphy and Patrick Murphy capitalized on the demand for portable furniture that accompanied this increased movement of people with the formation of their company E. Ross on Ellis Quay. Although examples of domestic furniture by Ross are known the vast majority of their output was designed to quickly fold or pack down for ease of travel.

The company’s exact start date is unknown but the first record of Ross is 1821 when they are listed in the directories as being located at 6 Ellis Quay. They remained on the quay throughout their history although their address is listed in the Dublin Directories at various combinations of the numbers between 5 to 11 and they are known to have also later had a factory at 35 Tighe Street (now named Benburb Street). These two locations were of course ideally located for the many officers stationed at Collins Barracks and this no doubt was a benefit to the business; a fact also picked up on by John Ireland, their neighbour and an Army Clothier, who was located at 11 Ellis Quay in 1850.

Ross stand out from the many other campaign furniture makers of the period for a number of reasons but perhaps the most important is their originality in design. As can be seen from the adverts of the London makers of the day, such as Hill & Millard, J W Allen and Day & Son they were all making fairly similar campaign pieces. Their adverts would typically show a two part chest of drawers, a washstand, folding bed and a Douro pattern chair. There would be the odd item that was specific to a particular maker but generally by the mid 19th century there were standard pieces that most officers would require and which they could easily find from a number of makers. Apart from their most basic chest of drawers, which followed the traditional design, most items manufactured by Ross differed greatly to that by other makers. A number of their chests would have a clever, folding superstructure or an unusual combination of drawers, their washstands wouldn’t have the normal brass standards adopted by the other makers but have turned columns and their Easy Chairs would put comfort at a premium.

Much of Ross’s work can be considered typical of the William IV and Victorian periods in its use of the fashionable design features of the day. This would of course have given their cabinet making greater appeal than that which was purely utilitarian; an important factor to their customers who would mostly have been well heeled gentleman officers with an eye for the stylish. It also means that much of it is not obviously made for campaign until close inspection. A good example of this is the Desk Chair below, that breaks down into eight pieces for travel.

The majority of campaign furniture was commissioned or retailed as individual pieces but Ross very cleverly gave the option of buying a suite of furniture. Such a suite would have a combination of a short set of Dining Chairs, an Easy Chair, a Couch, a Center Table and a Chiffonier or Sideboard which broke down to become the packing case. On the inside door of the cabinet furniture would be a label, giving packing instructions. The packing case cabinets were often adorned with carved decoration and moulding, which again was unusual for campaign furniture that mostly considered flat surfaces and square edges to be a pre-requisite. However, when it came to packing the cabinet, the moulding would be removed and the carved show wood protected with a bolt on panel so no sacrifice was made for the added decoration.

Perhaps the most famous such suite is that made for Captain Simner of the 76th Regiment and his wife, Francis Mary Bolton, as a wedding present on March the 27th, 1863. It was made from walnut taken from the family estate at Bective, in Ireland and travelled with the Captain and his wife to Madras, Burma and Secunderabad over a 12 year period. They may well have considered it their best wedding present, as it must have given great comfort in the very different climate of the Far East. Ross’s concessions to embellishment with the carving probably also gave a reminder of the Europe that they had left behind and so a feeling of a little luxury in a harder environment.

We are fortunate that Ross labeled most of their work with either a painted stencil, or small ivory or brass plaque, giving their current address at Ellis Quay. That which is not labeled was probably from a suite, where other items would have the Ross mark. However it is usually relatively easy to recognize Ross campaign furniture from its other traits. The use of walnut was common for Ross, perhaps because they recognized its revival in popularity under the Victorians, which again, would give an added selling point. Yet it was untypical of most campaign furniture makers who generally preferred mahogany or teak.

Ross’s numbering, for ease of assembly, of the individual parts that make up a piece of their furniture is also unique. Most campaign furniture makers used a simple system, often using Roman numerals but always starting, naturally, with the number one. Furniture by Ross is often given a two digit number or sometimes a letter and number depending on the item and Roman numerals are not noted as having been used. An example of such numbering is the set of four Balloon Back Chairs, illustrated, where the numbers range from 62 and 63 on the first chair to 70 and 71 on the second, 74 and 75 on the third and 92 and 93 on the fourth. Although at first this seemingly random system of numbering doesn’t seem to make sense it was probably logical for a factory that may have been making several pieces of the same item of furniture at the same time. Added to this Ross were probably selling their wares to members of the same regiments and their numbering system may well have saved future confusion amongst brother officers.

Ross prospered through out the 19th century and by 1864 their reputation was sealed by the approval of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. By 1882 even the Army were recommending them, something only done on occasion. The Report of the Kabul Committee on Equipment (Calcutta) stated ‘…. the committee now consider it to be necessary for the comfort of an officer, that he should have a bed, and they find that the pattern…made by Ross of Dublin is the most suitable. It weighs under 20lbs.

The success Ross and Co. of Dublin enjoyed throughout the 19th century can be put down to a number of factors, the most obvious being that they were very good cabinet makers. This quality of work coupled with their ingenuity of design, which was quite distinctive from their contemporaries, and attention to the popular styles of the day proved a winning combination. However, Ross also had other factors working in their favour to create a strong customer base. Not only were a large percentage of the British Army’s officers Irish but Ross were clever enough to position themselves close to one of the biggest barracks in Europe. The barracks were garrisoned by an Army that had spread itself across the world and whose mostly landed officers could afford the best, wished to travel in style and to have all the comforts of home when they arrived at their destination.

By 1909 there is no listing for Ross in the directories and their last address of 8,9 & 10 Ellis Quay is listed as vacant, surrounded by tenements. Their demise is due to the same factors that affected other campaign makers, which put simply is that they were right for their time and their time was over. The world and how war was conducted had changed significantly by the beginning of the 20th century. The Boers, with their speed of movement and good use of the ambush had taught the British Army a sharp lesson. Arnold-Forster, the Secretary of State for War perhaps recognized that things had to change when in 1903 he said ‘The British Army is a social institution prepared for every emergency except that of war.’  Domestic use had also tailed off, there weren’t as many colonists as in past generations and those that were heading off to make a new life knew that their destination was now far better set up to furnish them than in their ancestor’s days. The emergence of the motorcar also meant people could travel far quicker and so did not need to take as much with them for the comfort of a long journey. Although there was still a demand for both military and civilian travel furniture the cake had become much smaller. Added to this Ross probably suffered from the same effect that many independent retailers also do today, the popularity of the supermarket. The end of the 19th century saw the spectacular rise of The Army and Navy Store, a shop where everything could be bought from a travelling shaving brush to a tent. Whether you were looking to buy your groceries or a billiard table The Army and Navy Store could ship it to you in most parts of the world.

There is still much to be learnt about Ross of Dublin and it is a regret that there are inconsistencies in their directory listings and so few records of the company other than their furniture that survive. The discovery of a trade catalogue would shed more light on their full range of goods and offer other invaluable information. However, they have left a passion amongst collectors for their camp equipage, much of which travelled the globe when it was first made and is still doing so as it is eagerly sort.

by Sean Clarke and Nicholas Brawer

This article was first published in ‘Ireland’s Antiques & Period Properties’ magazine, Vol. 1 No. 3,
Summer / Autumn 2004.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Gregory Kane : Campaign Furniture Maker.

Gregory Kane, like most Campaign Furniture manufacturers, was first described in the Treble Almanac of 1829 as a Trunk Maker with premises at 8 ½ Fishamble Street, Dublin. He appears to have moved to 1 Fishamble in 1830 but continued as a Trunk Maker.

He must have had his ups and downs as he was declared insolvent in June 1832 whilst still at Fishamble Street. However he must have moved his premises at this stage as in the Insolvent Debtors Court he was described as “Late of Fishamble Street.” He clearly recovered from this little mishap and continued as a Trunk Maker at Essex Quay from 1833.

By 1835 he was working out of both 3 and 29 Essex Quay, although in his newspaper advertisement from May 1835, for his “Portmanteau and General Trunk Warehouse,“  he described his location as 29 Essex Quay, within two doors of Essex Bridge. He considered himself to be “the only person in the Trade who manufactures Solid Leather Trunks” and played an active role in the workmanship which allowed him to sell his items at 20% less than any other house in Dublin. He describes using Bramah’s Patent Locks and sold multiple items including horse skin portmanteaus, hat cases, carpet bags and even violin and guitar cases; however he makes no reference to Barrack/Military furniture at this stage. He continued advertising the above through 1835 and 1836.
In December 1836, Michael Ennis reached into his shop window and stole a portmanteau. Roger Ferrall, who was in Mr. Kane’s employ caught the thief a few doors down from the shop. In court the thief could not recollect a word of the incident, due to the fact that he suffered fits of epilepsy. He was, however, still found guilty and sentenced to six months imprisonment.
Through 1837 he continued to work out of 29 Essex Quay and continued to advertise himself to gentleman attending the “Elections in the Country” as well as to travellers. His wares now included ladies trunks and bonnet cases. In 1838 he opened premises at 81 Dame Street (nearly opposite the Lower Castle-Gate) but still continued at 29 Essex Quay. He described his business as a “Solid Leather Basil and Horse Skin Portmanteau Warehouse.” He now included military chests in his wares as well as an improved description of a solid leather portmanteau, which he marketed to the military and gentleman travelling. The portmanteau had an expanding top, whilst preserving a compact, portable appearance.
As is evident throughout Gregory Kane’s life, he was a dedicated philanthropist and in 1839 he was appointed to a committee to elicit subscriptions for six young children whose father had died unexpectedly. This attitude continued through Kane’s life.

By the 26th September 1839 he no longer advertised 29 Essex Quay and we can only presume that he had left the premises and continued on solely at 81 Dame Street. In October 1839, working as a “portmanteau and trunk maker,” he came before the local Magistrate to ask advice on a portmanteau that he had made. It was apparently of extraordinary construction and extremely valuable and was made following receipt of an order from a doctor for a lady in Rathmines. When it was presented to her, however, she stated she had never ordered it. He was advised to continue with civil proceedings.
He continued at 81 Dame Street through 1840, and in 1841 he exhibited leather trunks and hat cases at a Meeting of Irish Manufacturers in Rotundo called by the Lord Major. He now included harnesses, saddles, writing desks and dressing cases as part of his wares. He exhibited a hat case, a trunk and a patent square hat case at the Royal Dublin Society’s House Exhibition of Irish Manufacture, Produce and Invention in June 1841. The patent square hat case, was described as particularly unique and superior to anything of the same kind.
In 1842 he described himself as a “Military Portmanteau and Harness Manufactory,” and his extensive stock included cabinet work such as mahogany and rosewood writing desks and dressing cases, work boxes and tea caddies. He was able to sell at 10 to 20% lower than other houses as he had just returned from the Continent with a great quantity of leather. He also advertised that he had been awarded a Silver Medal by the Royal Dublin Society and now advertised trunks and chests for the East and West Indies.

He continued at 81 Dame Street through to 1844, when he advertised a newly-invented portmanteau for ladies, with separate compartments for bonnets, caps and dresses. He again exhibited at the Royal Dublin Society Exhibition of Articles of Irish Manufacture, Produce and Invention, and this included portmanteaus and trunks. In 1845 he moved from 81 Dame Street and opened 68 Dame Street, advertising that he had again received a Silver Medal from the Royal Dublin Society. He was still described in the directories as a “Portmanteau and Trunk Maker.” He appears to have opened further rooms or perhaps living quarters at 69 Dame Street in 1846, to add to 68 Dame Street. He now advertised “Malles Postes” portmanteaus which were designed for travellers to France, due to the strict regulations with regards size of portmanteau. He also sold air-tight chests, school trunks and oil cloth covers, overland mail portmanteaus as well as new and second hand Camp Furniture.
In 1847 he finally described himself “By Special Appointment” as a “Military Portmanteau, Dressing-Case and Camp Furniture Manufacturer to the Earl of Besborough.” He exhibited at the Royal Dublin Society Exhibition in July 1847 and his collection included a brass bedstead, hair mattress, bed clothes, and dressing case, complete in a portmanteau, not larger than a band-box. These were particularly suited for a military man. He also paid particularly reference in his advertisements to a pair of ordinary trunks, which were made to form a beautiful military chest of drawers, a canteen, a secretary and a pair of tables.
He was again in court in 1847, after one of his employees, John Rudd, who had previously neglected his business, cut out leather to make seven trunks but left it unfinished. He appealed to the local Magistrate that he wanted to “preserve the branch of Irish Trade in the country.” He further argued that Rudd’s actions could drive enterprise and industry from the country. John Rudd was sent for one month’s hard labour.
He achieved another small Silver Medal from the Royal Dublin Society for his lady’s double Russian leather portmanteau, as well as other gentlemen’s portmanteaus. He also advertised full sets of Camp Furniture to the Army and these included Patton and Harstow’s Iron Bedsteads. He opened extensive premises to include both 68 and 69 Dame Street in November 1847, and described them as “Camp Furniture and Portmanteau Warerooms.” His “Native Artisans” made up every article of Military Equipage, and according to Mr. Kane the articles could not be excelled by the best London Houses.
A sale of Kane’s wares was held in December 1848, in order to make room for a planned extension of another branch of his establishment. Presumably this was to extend into 70 Dame Street although he only advertised the premises as “68, 69 and 70 Dame Street” from 1850 onwards. A handsome Crown and gas Tubing initialled “V.A.” on an iron balcony adorned his shop in August 1849 for the visit of the Queen to Ireland. He noted in advertisements that he was able to deliver military outfits to any Barracks in England, Scotland and Ireland at no extra expense.

In the Irish Almanac of 1850 he is noted as the “Portmanteau Maker to the Lord Lieutenant” and was also recorded as having a premises at Mountainville Lodge, Dundrum. The Lord Lieutenant had visited the Royal Dublin Society’s Exhibition and Gregory Kane had erected and furnished the marquee in which he had luncheon. The furnishings were representative of the furniture with which a colonel on active service might have outfitted his tent whilst on active duty abroad. Included was a plain deal (British for Pine or Fir tree wood) box, three feet three inches by one foot six inches. When assembled, every part could be converted into articles of furniture, including a round table, sofa with bedding, six chairs, a carpet, a hearth rug, a table cover, a dressing case and other articles. He was awarded a Gold Medal and Certificate at the Exhibition. He also appealed to ladies and gentlemen travelling to Australia and the Colonies. In particular he was able to supply portable furniture of every description.
The Lord Lieutenant paid a visit to his factory on the 31st March 1851 and is said to have expressed his high approval of the “neatness, elegance and convenient arrangement of the articles” shown to him. These included camp and portable furniture of all descriptions, in particular his “Travelling Cabinet.”
In April 1851 he was addressed in the Freeman Journal by other Camp Furniture Establishments in Dublin, including the famous Eleanor Ross of Ross & Co, Ellis Quay; where they felt the need to explain to Mr. Kane that they used only Cabinet Makers, in the manufacture of every branch of portable furniture. Quite what the disagreement was, is unknown.
He exhibited at The Great Exhibition in 1851 and in particular displayed his “Registered Travelling Cabinet,” and advertised it for viewing to Dubliners prior to it being transported to London. His Travelling Cabinet was patented on July 23 1851 and included a cabinet and book case, a circular table, a side table, a sofa table, a mahogany couch, six chairs, curtains, a carpet and a hearth rug. He also won a Prize Medal for his Travelling Bedstead, which “within the compass of one small box contains all that is necessary for the traveller.”

Evidently proud of the number of prizes he had won at previous exhibitions he started advertising that fact in 1852 and listed the following:
1841 – The Royal Dublin Society’s Silver Medal – For Portmanteaus
1844 – The Royal Dublin Society’s Silver Medal – For Lady’s Portmanteaus
1847– The Royal Dublin Society’s Silver Medal – For Camp Furniture
1850 – The Royal Dublin Society’s Gold Medal – For Camp Furniture and Portmanteaus
1851 – The Great Exhibition Prize Medal – For Camp Furniture and Portmanteaus
He also claimed to be the manufacturer to the Garrison, and due to the numerous and pressing orders for his Prize Cabinet, he made up an additional supply.
Gregory Kane was granted a further patent for the “construction of Portable Houses or portions thereof, out of parts, which may be used for other purposes,” on the 10th May 1852 and proceeded to exhibit at the National Exhibition in Cork in the same year, and this included a newly invented portmanteau with three parts expanding.
He exhibited at the Great Industrial Exhibition in Dublin in 1853 where he displayed a small cabinet with the remarkable ability to transform into a chiffonier, a chest of drawers, a dining table and a dozen chairs. He also exhibited what appeared to be a common square box, which quickly converted into a well-stuffed easy chair. His shop was again adorned with a gas lit, crown surmounting the initials “V.A.” for the visit of Her Majesty in August 1853. Her presence was also noted at the Exhibition where she attended Mr. Kane’s extraordinary portable house and made “a minute examination of the contents.”
He was granted a patent on the 2nd March 1854 for a “Patent Portmanteau Field Bed” and “Patent Envelope Bed” and threatened in a newspaper advertisement to take legal action against any persons infringing on the patent. He informed the Army that these campaign beds were only to be obtained at his establishment.
Alterations were performed in September 1854 to expand and add to his business premises at 68, 69 and 70 Dame Street and he invited tenders for the work. After the extensions he found himself again before the magistrates in 1855, after a certain John Martin of Peter Street had used abusive language against him as well as discharging a loaded weapon into the garden of a Mrs. Patten, who was with Mr. Kane’s wife at the time.
From 1855-56 Kane appealed directly to the Militia as well as to officers leaving for the Crimea, to whom he touted an outfit for an Officer’s Room at one half the usual price. Again Mr. Kane was the victim of an attempted robbery when the grating was removed from his entrance on a Tuesday night in February 1856. Fortunately for him the policeman on duty thwarted the attempt. The very same store was beautifully decorated for the Queen’s birthday in May 1856, with the display including “V.A.N.E.” (A combination, of the initials of the Queen, Prince Albert, Louis Napoleon, and the Empress Eugenie) separated by stars. The display in his window included the new Continental portmanteaus, and perhaps seen deeper in the shop were the bedstead and even the children’s cots he now sold.
Continuing in his philanthropic ways he attended and subscribed to the Crimean Banquet in 1856.
Mr. Kane is still listed in the Irish Almanac at 68, 69, and 70 Dame Street in 1857 and he continued to advertise “The Travelling Cabinet” as well as a multitude of portmanteaus of the newest design. His products now included a patented air-tight bullock trunk which was designed specifically for gentlemen proceeding to the India War, due to its impervious nature to destruction from insects and white ants. By 1859 he was referring to his business as a “Cabinet and Upholstery Ware-Room” and he appealed to the Officers in the Garrison as well as gentlemen recently gazetted. He continued along his visceral pattern of advertising by equipping the ball room at the Beggar’s Bush Barracks for the 30th Regimental Ball.
A further patent was granted to Mr. Kane on the 8th June 1860 for “Kane’s Portable Folding Bedstead,” and he advertised this to the above mentioned persons as well as intending tourists. In 1861 Kane was awarded “Her Majesty’s Letters Patent under the Great Seal,” for this very military bedstead and it proved very popular with Officers of the Army.
The Great Exhibition of 1862 was a perfect advertisement for Kane’s wares, and these included, as usual, his “Travelling Cabinet” and portmanteaus. He also included items that were air tight to exclude insects and portmanteaus with a lap of cow hide, in order to prevent water from seeping in.

He continued to advertise his “Kane Portable Travelling Cabinet” which contained the entire furniture of a Drawing-Room as late as 1863. He again adorned his shop with a great quantity of light to illuminate a Crown, Prince’s Plume and Ribbon, for the celebration of the Royal Marriage of Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark in March.
With the patronage of the Army he constructed perhaps the most extraordinary piece of campaigning kit ever devised: A “Portable House” or “Australian House” for a Captain Richardson’s estate in Madras, India. Prior to its transport it was exhibited at his premises for Dubliners attention. A similar portable house was displayed in the yard in front of the Society House at the Royal Dublin Society’s Exhibition in 1864.This appears to be the only such portable house ever recorded and is arguably the ultimate expression of portability. After all, why not have a portable house to fill with all that portable furniture. This structure makes Kane unique amongst Campaign Furniture manufacturers.
In 1865 Mr. Kane is noted as having adorned his shop in plume and finery with the letters “A.A.” for the visit of the Prince of Wales. He also found the time to attend the International Exhibition in the same year where “Camp Furniture of the best and most compact description” was displayed.
He continued his Royal appreciation in 1868 by again decorating his establishment with a Crown, four letters and a star for the Royal Visit. The display was described in the Dublin Evening Post as both artistic and effective.

Gregory Kane continued in his establishment at 68, 69 and 70 Dame Street through 1870 when he advertised Christmas and wedding presents, including dressing cases, dressing bags, work boxes and other fancy goods. This year saw him re-sorting his warerooms, and selling cheaply a large quantity of soiled and second hand portmanteaus and bags.
He continued to advertise Christmas presents from Dame Street through December 1874, and contributed a number of prizes to Dublin Bazaars in 1875 and 1876. He continued to appeal to members of the Army and was still advertising a “Complete Outfit of Barrack Furniture” in 1876 and 1877 to new Officers.
From 1877 through 1884 he also continued his charitable giving, contributing significantly to Subscriptions and Bazaars. He continued with the business, however, and was still advertising portmanteaus and Gladstone Bags in 1885, two years before his death in 1887.
After his death his significant assets were auctioned off by James H. North and these included Shamrock Lodge in Dalkey as well as the leasehold interest and the entire stock of valuable camp furniture and portmanteaus of 68, 69 and 70 Dame Street. The auctions ran from December 1877 until August 1888.
All that remains today from the output of this significant Victorian maker of Campaign furniture are a very few chests and desks, invariably of the highest quality, that appear only sporadically on the open market.

By Jordan Pryce Lewis & Nicholas Brawer.