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Gillows pieces were marked to maintain a rudimentary form of audit trail. The initials of their journeymen were often added to pieces so that the quality of their work could be monitored (Stuart, 2008, p. 96, vol. I). A chair containing the Gillows mark may therefore signify that the item was to be sold through a third-party; the marks are rarely visible and had no advertising value. In contrast Morgan & Sanders preferred to add a brass nameplate to identify their pieces. Few Metamorphic Library Chairs carry the Morgan & Sanders nameplate but they are clearly visible on many larger pieces including imperial36 dining tables and patent bedsteads. Based on the evidence presented in Chapter 3, Morgan & Sanders could also have sold their furniture through third-parties such as Thomas Weeks and in such a situation the use of a nameplate could have helped to promote their goods. Many of the nameplates used by Morgan & Sanders indicate that they were the „inventors‟ or „patentees‟ of a design but there is no record of a patent application in the name of either partner.


4.2 Furniture Patents, Plagiarism and Protection


The first English patent was granted by Henry VI in 1449 but it was not until 1617 that a formal process was established and Patent No. 1 was granted to Aron Rathburne and Roger Burges protecting their process for engraving maps. The earliest item of metamorphic furniture to be patented in Great Britain combined a painted work of art with a bed tester (Woodcroft, 1969, p. 101). This rather unusual, elaborate and expensive means of concealing a daybed was developed by Isaac de la Chaumette (1721). Chaumette‟s patent marks the beginning of a trend in British furniture design that would test the ingenuity of cabinet-makers and satisfy a market demand for multi-purpose furniture that lasted for more than a hundred years. During this period chairs and sofas would be transformed into beds, fire screens opened to reveal writing desks37 and some stools, and chairs could be hinged open or tipped forward to reveal a small set of Library Steps. Although the term „patent‟ was used to describe mechanically assisted furniture during the eighteenth century, few of the designs were officially patented. As Kirkham points out in her book on the London furniture trade „only one invention was patented in each of the first five decades of the eighteenth century‟ (Kirkham, 1988, p. 124). There was a steady increase in the number of furniture patents registered towards the end of the eighteenth century, but


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