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Fentham, Thomas (1774–1825)

Fentham, Thomas

London; carver, gilder, glass grinder and picture frame maker (fl.1774–1825)

Trading at 49 Strand (1777); no. 52, ‘opposite Old Round Court’ (1778–93); no. 51  (1784); and 136 Strand, near Somerset House (1794–1820).

Recorded as Thomas & Co. (1807–21); and as C. T. Fentham & Co. (1820).

Purchased a Sun Insurance policies on 23 July 1787 for £5,400 on household goods, utensils, shops, warehouses and offices; in 1779 for £200 on utensils, stock and goods in warehouse and workshop in St Martin's Lane; and in 1780 for £300 on his house. Polled at Westminster in 1774 and named as a Fellow of the Society of Arts and Manufactures (1787–90).

His trade label, found behind an oval carved and gilt Neo-classical looking-glass, announced that he ‘sells all sorts of picture, print, and looking-glass frames, of any colour to match rooms. Various sorts of dressing glasses, rich girandole and green and blue Venetian Window blinds.’

Trade card
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
© The Trustees of the British Museum
Trade card of T. Fentham, c.1802-11 [Heal,32.20]. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Labels also found on various gilded looking glasses, of round or architectural form, Neo-classical ornament, often convex, and surmounted by a carved eagle. Many of the these and other frames and mirrors to came on the market between 1985 and 1996. Several of the labels used by the firm are illustrated in Gilbert (1996), figs.330-348.

In 1815 Del Vecchio of New York was advertising convex mirrors very similar to those being made by Fentham (1802-11). The gilt pier tables in the Gallery at Erddig, Clwyd, are almost certainly by Fentham, whose label has survived on the back of a picture frame with similar decoration in the Chinese Room. He probably also supplied the stand for The Ruins of Palmyra, and for models by Elizabeth Ratcliffe, which may well account for the payment to him in 1775 of £15 12s 6d.

Fentham is also known to have carried out work for the state bedrooms, completed c. 1775. Probably the T. Fentham of London who provided Lady Heathcote with ‘1 Square Frame with Spandle for a Picture of Mr. Folkstone’, costing 16s, on 19 June 1779. Probably also the Thomas Fentum of London who was paid on 23 January 1782 for picture frames supplied to Charles Towneley; and on 10 June 1785, £10 16s ‘for the square glass and frame done in 1784.

Bill head with The Strand address (1788) in the John Johnson Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford. Another bill head in the Heal Collection, British Museum, London, includes a bill to Jonathan Michie, Esq. dated May 3, 1791 for 1 square Frame with an Ornament top do in Burnished Gold  £1 11s 6d A Case to d 7s 6d [total amount] £1 19s.

Bill head
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
© The Trustees of the British Museum
Bill head of Thomas Fentham at No. 52, near the New Exchange Buildings Strand, London, c.1790 [Heal,96.5]. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Sources: DEFM; Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996); Van Cott, ‘The Del Vecchios of New York’, Furniture History (1989); FHS Newsletter (May 2007).

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