A History of English Furniture: The Age of Oak

The Restoration of Three Volumues Funded by Bertha Honore Palmer Chapter #1355 of Questers International

The next three entries will focus on a collection of three books from our rare book collection here at The Ringling Museum Library. All the books in our rare book collection were either in John Ringling’s possession upon his death in 1936 or were gifts given to the library form our generous friends. The three books in question are part of a set of four volumes on the history of English furniture. The set, A History of English Furniture, was a gift from Bertha Honore Potter Palmer and was given to us in 1970. The books were restored by Mr. James Tapley in Novemeber of 2011. He removed earlier tape repairs, filled in peices of missing cloth and did other minor retouchings. The set includes, The Age of Oak, The Age of Walnut, The Age of Mahogany, and the forth (which is not in our possession) The Age of Satinwood.  

The Age of Oak: by Percy Macquoid. Plates illustrated by Shirley Slocombe. Published by Laurence & Bullen LTD, London, 1904.

Percy Macquoid was a man with many talents. He was a prolific illustrator, painter, author, set designer and costume designer. He was well known for his work with famed theatre producer Herbert Beerbohm Tree in his productions of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra and Nero. The photograph of the young woman in a headress is a photograph of one of his costumes for Anthony and Cleopatra on British actress and voice coach Constance Collier. But Macquoid’s real passion seemed to be with England’s furniture history. His in depth analysis of the styles and construction of English furniture from 1500-1820 can all be found in his collection A History of English Furniture.The first of the four volumes,

The Age of Oak contains 15 plates illustrated by Shirley Slocombe and 215 photographs and sketches illustrated by the author. The Age of Oak is a study of the evolution of wooden furniture through the years 1500-1660. The book contains an in depth study on the transition of furniture style from Gothic to Renaissance. It is broken down into three periods of style: Gothic, Elizabethan, and Jacobean. The 15 plates contained in the volume all depict color representations of these styles. Each of the fifteen plates represents a different type of furniture ranging from chests, beds, and chairs. Before each plate is a description of the type of furniture depicted, its measurements, and its owner at the time of publication.



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