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Curtis, John (1768–1824)

Curtis, John

Wisbech, Cambridgeshire; cabinet maker, upholsterer and chairmaker (fl. 1768–1824)

An advertisement in the Cambridge Chronicle and Journal of 8 October 1768, gives details of property for sale in Wisbech, including ‘a Shop or Shed … near to Roper's Fields, now in the Occupation of John Curtis, chairmaker’. The poll books of 1780 and 1802 also record him in Wisbech and Pigot's Directory of 1823–24 lists the firm of John Curtis & Son in Wisbech. The business was probably fairly substantial and as early as 1777 utensils, stock and workshop were insured for £400.

John Curtis & Son placed an advertisement in the Stamford Mercury on 13 April 1780 for "A TURN-PIN-CHAIR-MAKER … If he can Matt well. It will be the more agreeable'' and The Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, 14 May 1796 carried an advertisement for two experienced journeymen cabinet makers to apply ‘to John Curtis at his Chair, Cabinet and Upholstery Manufactury in the Beast Market, Wisbech’. There was also a vacancy for an apprentice and ‘A spinning wheel maker … who can do the Job Turning in a cabinet shop’. Another advertisement appeared in the Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, 17 April 1812, addressed to journeymen chair and cabinet maker: ‘Two or three good workmen in the above branches may have constant employ, by the Norwich book of prices, and the late advances thereon, by applying immediately to Mr. John Curtis's Chair, Cabinet and Upholstery Manufactory near the Corn Exchange, Wisbech St. Peters, Cambridgeshire’. Curtis again advertised in Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, 26 April 1818 for two further workmen.

Some furniture appears to have been labelled and one piece inscribed in manuscript ‘John Curtis/Fecit 1774/Wisbich’ is known. The label is on the inner carcase of a 17th-century marquetry cabinet which had been extensively rebuilt and altered in the 18th century to form a chest of drawers

Source: DEFM; Parker, ‘The Elusive Turn-pin Chair’, Regional Furniture (2018).

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