I was reminded this week of the joy of being an antique dealer when you come across a real treasure. The antique side of my company has always served as inspiration for the Jamb reproduction designs and the grates are no exception.
This week a mid-eighteenth Century Chippendale period fire basket of exceptional quality, the like of which I haven’t seen for years, came to my door at the Pimlico showroom.
This magnificent piece has the sleepy quality that I love and shows that this is not just unique to furniture or marble objects in the English Country House aesthetic. There is also the pleasure in buying something 18th Century that is unrestored, still functions and will do so for another 100 years.
Originally the fire basket would have been polished steel and through the centuries it has tarnished, building up a layered patina. In the nineteenth century they would have added black lead, so the layers of colour are built up.
The grate has a pattern that one imagines is lifted directly from one of the directory patterns books of the eighteenth century.
It has extraordinary intricate hand pierced obelisks and apron with an unusual two bar construction where most grates have three. The design and construction reminds me of the work of the 18th Century ironmonger Maurice Tobin (1703-1773)
I have owned an original basket by Tobin before that inspired the reproduction firebasket in his namesake.
Working alongside the leading architects of his time, Tobin was described as ‘the most eminent in his profession of any in the North of England’ (The Fashionable Fire Place, 1660-1840, (Christopher Gilbert Anthony Wells Cole)
Now, each time I leave the Jamb premises I walk past this newly acquired magnificent grate. It never fails to lift my spirits and serves as a reminder that every week is an untiring search for that next hidden treasure.