Argles, Edward (1795-1813)
Maidstone, Kent, then London; upholder and cabinet maker (fl.1795–1813)
Son of Thomas Argles. Traded from an address in High St, Maidstone until 1810. On 22 September 1804 he bound George Johnson as an apprentice for seven years at a premium of £80. In the Maidstone Journal on 29 May 1810, he asked for offers for his premises described as a ‘freehold messuage with the Yard and Garden’, and on 25 September of the same year an auction sale of his stock was advertised. The reason for selling up was ‘his having taken the business of Dr Butler of Catherine-street in the Strand’. He was in possession of the business of Thomas Butler the following year (1811). The business specialising in patent furniture was at 13 and 14, Catherine St, Strand. Argles must have taken over Butler's patrons who included many persons 'of consequence'. To meet this fashionable demand Argles offered to execute designs ‘in the Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek & Chinese manner’. He described himself as ‘Upholsterer & Cabinet-maker to the King & Queen, their Royal Highnesses Prince, Princess & Princess Charlotte of Wales, Duke of York & Princesses’. While this assertion was probably made on the basis of past custom of Thomas Butler's business, Argles did attract Royal patronage. In 1811 he supplied the Prince of Wales with ‘very elegant Royal Library Writing Tables made in fine Rosewood banded with Satin-wood, supported on brass pillars, fitted with draws, writing materials etc’. For this £38 15s 6d was charged, while a ‘handsome leather cover’ for the table cost £2 2s more. A chair bed (resembling one of Butler’s standard models) has been recorded with a brass plate engraved ‘ARGLES late BUTLER Patent 13 & 14, Catherine St, Strand’ (illus. Gilbert (1996), fig. 25).
The extensive nature of the manufactory is reflected in the insurance cover of £4,500 taken out on 13 July 1812. This covered ‘Stock & utensils in dwelling house being two houses with workshop, warehouse (no store for drying feathers)’ amounting to £3,400 in value, £100 for the stock of glass and £1,000 for the ‘stock, utensils in his upper woodyard Saxony’. As part of his business he undertook funerals, making his own coffins and shrouds. Argles's success in London was however short-lived. In 1813 he was declared bankrupt. His stock in trade was valued at £8,500 and his initial capital £1,000.
Source: DEFM; Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996).