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Chubb & Son; Chubb & Co. (1818-1977)

Chubb & Son; Chubb & Co.

London; furniture lock smiths, furniture makers; art metal workers (c.1818-1977)

Charles Chubb founded a locksmith company in 1818 which was registered at 5-7 (or 57) and 37 St Paul’s Church Yard, London. The Furniture Gazette, 3 February 1877, recorded that Chubb & Sons, lock makers, had moved to 128 Queen Victoria Street. George Hayter Chubb, proprietor of the Chubb & Son, chaired the board of the Art Furnishers’ Alliance, founded in 1881, with the other directors being Christopher Dresser (art director), John Harrison, Edward Cope and Sir Edward Lee. The Art Furnishers’ Alliance was established to manufacture and retail art furniture and other decorative arts with showrooms in 157 New Bond Street. Chubb & Sons provided the premises for the manufacture of artistic furniture and metalwork under the name of Chubb & Co., and also created warehouse space for the Alliance’s other suppliers, among whom were Liberty and Dixon. The Alliance went into liquidation in May 1883 and Chubb & Co. probably stopped production of furniture at this time.

Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A drawing room or bourdoir chair designed by Christopher Dresser, c. 1880 [V&A: W.35-1992)]. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

As Art Editor of The Furniture Gazette, Dresser illustrated some of his furniture designs including this chair in February 1880 and the V&A example was part of the stock of co-ordinated house furnishings in The Art Furnishers’ Alliance shop, advertised at £1 13d in a sale catalogue of 1883 when the Alliance closed. The V&A chair, of mahogany, ebonised and gilded, combines a simple form with an unusual arrangement of vertical and diagonal struts in the back.  Designs of 4 further chairs, designer not stated but probably Dresser, were published in The Furniture Gazette, 3 July 1880.

About 1882 Christopher Dresser was commissioned by George Hayter Chubb to design a decorated cast-iron boudoir Chubb safe on stand. The design was illustrated in a catalogue dated 1882 in the Chubb archives at the Guildhall Library. The design and an example of this piece were offered for sale at Sotheby’s London, 4 June 1999, lot 56 (illus. in the sale catalogue).

The Furniture Gazette, 10 May 1884, reported that Chubb & Son was building three floors of workmen’s dwellings, suitable for single or family occupancy, above a portion of the frontage of their factory in Glengall Road, Old Kent Road.  A plot of land in front would be created into a garden, and below the dwellings a dining hall for 150 people, lavatories & kitchen. In July 1884 the foundation stone for the new building was laid by Sir W. McArthur, K.C.M.G., M.P.  J.C. Chubb & G.H. Chubb both made speeches at this event, declaring that their responsibilities as employers did not end with paying employees wages and ‘it was the earnest desire of the company to protect their workpeople from the many temptations to which they were exposed and to make their homes as comfortable as possible...’ [The Furniture Gazette, 19 July 1884].

Chubb & Sons took out numerous patents on locks, latches etc. in the 19th & 20th centuries and supplied various furniture makers. Known employees/locksmiths included H Blakemore (fl. 1870). 

An advertisement in 1949 (publication unknown) recorded the firm, C. Chubb & Son, still at 57 St Paul’s Church Yard, selling japanned metal boxes (for cash, paper, deed and palanquin writing). By 1977 the company was named Chubb & Sons Lock and Safe Co. Ltd, 14-22 Tottenham Street.

Sources:  Gere & Whiteway, Nineteenth-Century Design.  From Pugin to Mackintosh (1993); file in the Department of Furniture, Textiles & Fashion, V&A.