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Channel Islands Furniture & Clocks


What started out as a seemingly straightforward valuation of furniture turned into a voyage of discovery. All eight pieces plus one longcase appeared quintessentially to be British but all had idiosyncrasies that set them apart from furniture of Scottish, English, West Indian or Isle of Man origin - where had they been made?

It turned out the furniture had been inherited from an estate in Jersey but there were no records of furniture manufacture in the Channel Islands so we decided to investigate by going to the islands and doing some research, the results were intriguing.

It took three years on and off to accumulate the names and addresses of 100 cabinet makers operating in the islands between 1680 and 1830, remarkable since the local historians had said there never was a cabinet making tradition and they had no records. The most well documented maker was Nicholas Lihou from Guernsey and his work turns up as far afield as Australia: fortunately he signed all the pieces that we are aware of.

Charles Guillaume who was born in Jersey in 1671 and died in Saybrook, Connecticut in 1727 is a mystery. There is a fine painted chest on stand in Winterthur Museum in Delaware attributed to him as being made in Saybrook, the problem is the chest, stylistically, appears to pre-date his arrival in America which leaves us wondering if it was in fact made in Jersey and then taken to Connecticut - this research is ongoing. There is clearly a connection between the painted chests of Jersey and Guernsey and those of Coastal Connecticut.
There is currently an exhibition entitled Thistles and Crowns at the Florence Griswold museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut; they have a display of painted furniture much of which originated In Connecticut, some perhaps by Guillaume: see www.florencegriswoldmuseum.org.

We have collected sufficient material for a book but as yet we have not found a publisher. However, we have extracted the clockmakers section of just under seventy names and published an un-illustrated book on the clockmakers in the islands and this can be bought online:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book 
    on Lulu.


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