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Thomas Sheraton's Book Of Designs

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Sheraton's early career—His life in London—The influences governing Sheraton's designs—"The Cabinet-maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book "—The reception of the book—Materials and inlays—Typical pieces—Chairs and tables—Bureaus and bookcases—Sideboards and cabinets—Bedsteads and bedroom furniture.

IN that there is but little evidence that Thomas Sheraton ever worked as a master cabinet-maker, although he had undoubtedly some practical experience of the craft, his influence upon the trade of his day can only be judged by his books. The book of designs prepared so laboriously was published by subscription, and was so well supported that his scheme of construction and design, which formed such a marked advance, and gave to the cabinet trade such distinctive schemes of ornament, quickly became the rage. The fact that something like ninety per cent. of the original subscribers to the work were either cabinet-makers or directly connected with the trade is sufficient evidence that Sheraton's designs were very widely circulated, and that most of the copies of his book went into the hands of practical men who had opportunities of carrying out those designs, and consequently of introducing them to customers. In the revival of eighteenth-century art, which has made such an impression upon the trade of the present day, Sheraton's designs have been reproduced, and the inspiration of Thomas Sheraton is probably as keenly felt in the cabinet-making trade of the twentieth century as it was shortly after the publication of his famous " Drawing Book." In modern reproduction the necessities of the present day have to be regarded. Hence it is that modern copies do not always follow the directions met with in Sheraton's book, rightly interpreted by the eighteenth - century cabinet-makers, who followed his instructions. In some of the articles, how-ever, reproductions of the antique so closely resemble the originals that it is not always easy to distinguish them. Home connoisseurs may unwittingly fall into traps, and when securing under the hammer fine sideboards, cabinets, or other articles of furniture may be under the impression that they are buying antiques, whereas they may turn out to be but modern replicas. Notwithstanding the so-called copyist, however, there are genuine examples of the cabinet work of the eighteenth century to be found in many English homes, especially in those old houses where the furniture of the eighteenth century has descended from father to son, and it is among such well-authenticated pieces that we can note the chief characteristics of those remarkable designs prepared by Thomas Sheraton.

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