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Baldock, Edward Holmes (1777–1845)

Baldock, Edward Holmes

Hanway St, London; furniture dealer, restorer, etc. (b. 1777–d. 1845)

Born on 14 May 1777, Baldock married Mary Goringe, the daughter of John and Sarah Goringe of Buxted, Sussex on 19 November 1811. They had two children: Edward Holmes (1812–75), who married the daughter of a Salopian baronet, Sir Andrew Corbet; and Mary Frances (1814–42), who married a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, William Amos Starborough Westoby.

In 1805 Baldock's name first appears as the freehold owner of 7 Hanway Street, London. Over the years he expanded his premises. By 1840 his property in this street comprised nos 1 and 2, both with back premises, and in addition he owned a yard (precise location unspecified) and no. 3, which he let. It was in 1 and 2 Hanway Street that he carried on business up to 1843 when he retired, selling his stock and moving to a fashionable residential address, Hyde Park Place. According to one 19th-century source, the business was taken over by Frederick Litchfield's father. He was buried in St Pancras Church, Euston, where he is commemorated by a marble memorial tablet on the north wall, dedicated jointly to him and Mary Frances Westoby.

In 1805 he described himself as dealer in china and glass. By 1821 he was styled in the Post Office Directories as antique furniture and ornamental china dealer, and in 1826 he described his activities in a bill heading as ‘buying, selling, exchanging and valuing China, Cabinets, Screens, Bronzes etc.’. Though Baldock's business consisted primarily in dealing in antique porcelain and furniture — largely foreign — he repaired, remodelled and altered existing furniture. He also produced designs for new pieces and had them made. Whether the furniture was actually manufactured on his premises is a matter of conjecture in the absence of documentary evidence. Baldock’s name appears among the buyers at the sale of George Watson Taylor’s collection in May 1825; Baldock was presumably buying for resale.

In 1836 Baldock sold French eighteenth-century furniture to Lady Stafford (Countess of Sutherland) for Dunrobin Castle, and in 1842 Scotland’s leading country house architect, William Burns, recommended to his patron O. Tyndall Bruce of Falkland House that ‘for Cabinets and China, do not omit going to Baldock’s Hanway Street, Oxford Street… which is the first place in London’.

References to alterations to furniture occur in the Lucy, Lowther and Buccleuch papers during the years 1836 to 1843. These involved the addition of mounts, the replacement of the interior fittings of secretaries and tables, the addition of doors to case furniture and the embellishment of other pieces with porcelain plaques. Baldock also supplied sofas and chairs made up in part or in whole of old pieces of carving. A large quantity of dismembered pieces of furniture, listed in Baldock's sale catalogues of May and July 1843, may well have been stocked for use in making up pieces. He evidently specialised in furniture in the Boulle manner, in French 17th-century style ebony cabinets and in oriental 17th-century style seat furniture of turned ebony and carved ivory. Baldock had an eye for detail and was obsessive by nature; he wrote to the collector, Ralph Sneyd, in 1842-43 listing the daily temperature over a three-month period and was precise about the conditions of these readings taken ‘for a north room, on a shaded East interior wall’. This same meticulous eye for light, shade and contrast was evident in his cabinetwork.  

In 1841 the Duke of Buccleuch was sent drawings of bedroom furniture as well as working drawings of an octagonal table, a bookcase and three stalls. A drawing of a Louis XV lean-to secretaire, which may have been supplied by Baldock, survives in the Buccleuch archives. It is not however clear whether it represents an existing piece or a design for a projected piece in the Louis XV style. The same doubt arises in the case of a design of a lectern in the Gothic revival style which was drawn on Baldock's premises (drawing now in Marylebone Library). On the other hand, a design of a table in the Buccleuch papers which is annotated ‘No. 3 Amboyna wood ground with coloured flowers’ is almost certainly the preliminary sketch for a table which was later made. Robert Byng (1764-1847) and George Newport, 2nd Earl of Bradford were also customers of Baldock’s. In 1840 he supplied a two encoignures with slab tops to the latter (one illus. FHS Newsletter (February 2017, p. 5). A pair of china cabinets on stands with porcelain mounts, made c.1835-43 for the 3rd Marquis of Lansdowne were sold by auctioneers, Bamfords, in 2007 (illus. FHS Newsletter (February 2017), p. 3), the stands of which replicated the design sketch of Louis XV-style desk offered by Baldock to the 5th Duke of Buccleuch (illus. FHS Newsletter (February 2017) p. 4). The sketch offered the option of lacquer or porcelain panels in the frieze. 

A number of well-constructed and, in some cases, finely inlaid pieces of furniture are known which are 19th-century in date and which are branded with Baldock's initials, ‘EHB’. While some are pastiches of 18th-century French furniture others are in a contemporary English style. Whether these pieces were both designed by Baldock and made on his premises is impossible to tell. The ‘EHB’ mark cannot be regarded as a maker's stamp in the accepted sense of the term as it is also struck on genuine French 18th-century furniture which merely passed through Baldock's hands.

Marked  examples bearing the EHB brand marks include:

  • An English side cabinet, c.1835
  • A pair of side cabinets mounted with porcelain plaques attributed to John Randall
  • An English writing table with French porcelain plaques, one of  pair
  • A library table with ormolu mounts and an English centre table with floral marquetry and gilt bronze mounts supplied to the Duke of Buccleuch
  • An English writing table copied from one by Bernard van Reisenburgh
  • A display cabinet with the paper labels printed with the arms of the Earl of Shelbourne
  • Two pairs of boulle marquetry side cabinets supplied by Baldock to the Duke of Buccleuch are all stamped Etienne Levasseur (maître-ébéniste, 1766-98) but one is also incised EHB under the marble slab of one of the cabinets.

For illustrations see Gilbert (1996), figs 40-50.  

Some of the marquetry furniture supplied by Baldock was almost certainly made, or the marquetry executed, by the Blake family of Tottenham Court Road.

Baldock's bills survive in the following archives:

  • Windsor Royal Archives, George IV's papers, 1827–28
  • Staffordshire Record Office, 1st Baron Hatherton papers, 1831
  • Warwick Record Office, George Lucy papers, 1826–37
  • Duke of Buccleuch and Queensbury's private archives
  • 5th Duke of Buccleuch papers, 1830–43
  • Cumbria Record Office, 2nd Earl of Lonsdale papers, 1836–41
  • Duke of Northumberland's private archives
  • 3rd Duke of Northumberland papers, 1824
  • Leeds archives department, Harewood MS, Edward Lord Lascelles papers, 1807
  • Staffordshire record Office, Duke of Sutherland's papers, 1830
  • Lincoln Record Office, Lord Willoughby d'Eresby papers, (2nd Lord Gwydir), 1827–28
  • Herefordshire Record Office, John Arkwright papers, 1832
  • Lord de Saumarez's private archives at Shrubland Hall, Sir William Middleton's papers, 1839–43.

Sources: DEFM; G. de Bellaigue, ‘Edward Holmes Baldock’, I and II, Conn., August 1975, pp. 290–99 and September 1975, pp. 18–25; C. G. Gilbert, Leeds Furn. Cat., no. 395, pp. 318–21; Gow, ‘Mary Queen of Scots Meets Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Some Problems in the Historiography of the Scotch Baronial Revival Interior’, Furniture History (1996); Yorke, ‘The Furnishing of Stafford House by Nicholas Morel’, Furniture History (1996); Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996);  Roberts, ‘‘Quite Appropriate for Windsor Castle' George IV and George Watson Taylor’, Furniture History (2000); Levy, ‘E. H. Baldock and the Blake Family: Further Evidence’, FHS Newsletter (May 2005); Yorke, ‘Grecian Chairs at St Pancras New Church’, Furniture History (2015); Davis, ‘A Triumph of Anglo-Gallic Taste: Two Porcelain-Mounted China Cabinets Made by Edward Holmes Baldock’, FHS Newsletter (February 2017).

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.