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Gee, John; Gee & Sons; Gee, Thomas Ayliffe; Ayliffe & Gee (1779–1824)

Gee, John; Gee & Sons; Gee, Thomas Ayliffe; Ayliffe & Gee

49 Wardour Street, Soho, London; chair maker and turner (fl.1779–c.1824)

In about 1779 John Gee replaced Thomas Ayliffe as partner to Benjamin Crompton, who had been 'Turner in Ordinary' to George III since 1762. On 14 October 1787 Gee was sworn in as turner ‘jointly with Thos. Ayliffe his partner’, but his name, unlike Ayliffe's, does not appear in the Court and City Register until 1799. Ayliffe was the fourth member of his family to be a turner to the King, so Gee was probably the junior partner.  

In 1790 Lord Wilton bought chairs for the Music Room at Heaton Hall, Lancashire. ‘2 June 1790 Aycliffe & Gees Bill for chairs etc. £49 8s.’. From 1799, when he is described as ‘Chair-maker, 49 Wardour Street, Soho’, Gee is listed in London directories. In 1803 he is called ‘Chairmaker & Turner to His Majesty’ and this title occurs regularly in entries up to 1823; in most directories, however, this appointment is omitted.

Listed as Gee & Sons (1809) and Gee, Thomas Ayliffe (1804–09). Gee is also included in the list of master cabinet makers attached to Sheraton's Cabinet Dictionary, 1803. The last directory listing for Gee is 1823–24.

On 8 November 1804 Thomas Ayliffe Gee was appointed 'Turner in Ordinary' to the King jointly with his father and briefly, in one directory of 1809 the firm is listed as ‘Gee & Sons, Turners & chair makers’. John Gee's name is shown in the Court and City Register until 1831, well after his apparent retirement. Charles Holme Bridges, who succeeded Gee at 49 Wardour St in 1824 received a royal warrant in 1822 but is first entered as a turner in the 1832 Register.

Gee's productions have been identified through stamped marks:

  • ‘J GEE’, ‘GEE’, l GEE’, ‘Jn. G’ and
  • A crown, J within G

Certain chairs are stamped with initials: ‘RR’, ‘GL’, ‘GH’, ‘IT’ and ‘WG’. These are probably the marks of individual chair makers in Gee's employ.

he following lists recorded chairs by Gee in the order of their emergence:

  • Pride's of London, 1962: 6 chairs, painted trophies on green and brown background, stamped ‘J GEE’ 
  • Bearne's Sale Rooms, 1964: settee, 2 armchairs, 7 chairs, stamped ‘J GEE’; 8 chairs, brass inlay, stamped ‘J GEE’
  • Sotheby's, London, 19 June 1970: lot 80, 4 chairs, simulated rosewood, gilt, stamped ‘GEE’ and ‘RR’
  • Sotheby's, London, 23 October 1970: lot 170, 6 chairs, simulated rosewood and brass inlay, stamped ‘GEE’ and ‘GL’ (some only)
  • Sotheby's, London, 11 June 1971: lot 192, 2 armchairs, ebonised and gilt, stamped ‘GEE'
  • Christie's, London, 20 January 1972: lot 64, 8 chairs, ebonised, stamped ‘I GEE’ and ‘GH’
  • Bearnes & Waycotts, 1974(?): armchair, painted. Christie's, London, 31 October 1974, lot 98, 3 chairs, gilt, one branded ‘Jn. G’ twice with crown, the other two branded with crown, and with trade label of Copworth Bros. & Harrison, 22 Old Bond Street, Carpet & Cabinet Manufacturer to Her Majesty
  • Pride's of London, 1975: 6 chairs, simulated rosewood and brass inlay
  • Temple Newsam House, Leeds, 1976: 2 armchairs, ebonised and painted, stamped J within G and ‘IT’
  • Mrs G. M. Douglas, Bath, 1978: 3 chairs, painted green, stamped ‘GEE WARDOUR ST’ and ‘WG’
  • Sotheby's, London, 14 November 1979: lot 277, 2 chairs, painted with flowers, one stamped ‘GEE’
  • Private House, Monmouthshire, 1985: 8 chairs, ebonised, all stamped ‘GEE’ and ‘IT’, and 2 settees, en suite, both stamped ‘GEE’ and (?) ‘WP’
  • SOANE MUSEUM: 4 plain splat back chairs marked with incised J within a G and with further indistinct initials, possibly BE, FE or EE are illustrated in Gilbert (1996), figs 376-394.

Sources: DEFM; Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996); Dorey, ‘Catalogue of the Furniture in Sir John Soane's Museum’, Furniture History (2008).

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