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Dimensions – The dimensions of the marked chair in the open position are unknown but in the closed position the Tatton Park chair is two inches smaller between the front and rear legs. The marked chair and that retailed by Mallett Antiques are both of a more substantial construction. The size of the chair at Tatton Park does however meet the guidelines suggested by Gillows in the 1834 Sketch Book entry and sits comfortably among the marked Gillows chairs at Tatton Hall62.


Decoration – The Metamorphic Library Chairs at Tatton Park and Mallett Antiques are both heavily reeded. The chair at Tatton Park carries a double reeded decoration to all forward facing surfaces including: the voluted arms, the side-rails and both front legs. The front-rail is also reeded in keeping with the overall design. The Mallett chair goes one stage further with four tapered reeds to the outer edges of the side-rails and uprights. According to Stephen Sartin (2009), a leading authority on the work of Gillows, heavy reeding would have been uncharacteristic of Gillows at this time and the accompanying Sketch Book records would have specified the additional carving. Given that the marked chair and both Sketch Book entries suggest plain surfaces, the chairs at Tatton Park and Mallet Antiques could have originated elsewhere.


Timber – Gillows had access to the finest cuts of timber and it was common practice for the firm to reserve the very best for their own workshops. From the photograph of the marked Gillows chair it appears as though it has been heavily restored and much of the original patina has been lost. Nevertheless, there is evidence that a strongly figured, close-grained mahogany has been used. In contrast to the marked chair, the Tatton Park example has developed a rich, nutty-brown glow over the last two hundred years. Once again the timber is close-grained but it has been made from Honduran rather than Spanish mahogany63. Nevertheless, the chair-maker has inset a flame mahogany veneer into a double-reeded panel on the top-rail to lighten the appearance of the rail and to provide a contrast with the plain Honduran timber. Despite the use of Honduran mahogany the Tatton Park chair was clearly made by a firm with access to good quality timber and the use of the veneered panel to enhance the chair provides further evidence that this is a good quality piece. The ornate chair being offered by Mallett Antiques is also made of Honduran mahogany. Recent refinishing has taken away some of the patina but the skill of the restorer has retained much of the original wood tone.


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