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Jackson, George & Sons (1780-1980)

Jackson, George & Sons

Rathbone Place, Tottenham Court Road, London; picture and looking glass frame makers, carvers, architectural ornament makers and modellers (fl. 1780–1980)

The business of George Jackson & Sons was established in 1780 producing decorative plaster composition using a stock of boxwood moulds to press out Adam-style ornament. The firm was mentioned in Loudon's Encyclopaedia, 1833, as a maker of looking-glass frames using composition and made furniture for the firm, Crace, in nearby Wigmore Street. As the nineteenth century continued its reputation was based on its fine ornaments for frames, frame in whole for mirrors & pictures and architectural fittings in carton pierre, papier maché, composition and canvas plaster.

The list of their clients includes leading frame makers and architects of the nineteenth century. These details with the history of the firm is extensively recorded in the National Portrait Gallery database of frame makers. This account solely covers its furniture making activities in the nineteenth century and the notable nineteenth-century exhibitions in which it participated.

By 1817 the business was located at 50 Rathbone Place, expanding into No. 49 c. 1832 and then to nos 47–48. There was also a large workshop positioned behind the showrooms. The company was recorded in The Furniture Gazette 'Diary and Desk Book', 1886 and London Post Office Trade Directory (1882, 1891 & 1902) as papier mache workers, carton pierre manufacturers and modellers at 49 Rathbone Place. Jackson & Sons continued to operate from Rathbone Place until 1934 when the works moved to Rainville Road, Fulham, where it remained until 1980s when it became a subsidiary of Clark & Fenn Ltd. The business, George Jackson Ltd, is now based in Sutton, Surrey, under new ownership and producing architectural ornaments.

An article in The Furniture Gazette, 4 April 1874, said the firm’s employees were primarily foreign artisans because of their experience of working with the materials. Jackson’s pre-eminent position was recognised with exhibition medals in 1851, 1855, 1862 & 1867. The Furniture Gazette, 21 September 1878, noted that Jackson was awarded a gold medal in Paris, 1878.

George Jackson & Sons issued several catalogues during the nineteenth century. The first part of the collection of detailed enrichment, and various articles of taste and furniture (1836) includes thirty-four plates (copies held in the British Library; RIBA Library, V&A;  and the Winterthur Library). At this date the firm described itself as composition ornament and improved pâpier maché manufacturers, modellers, carvers, and workers in ornamental Roman cement and plaster of Paris.   

A collection of reverse-carved boxwood moulds and related objects with a provenance to the George Jackson business were given to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1989 by Clark & Fenn Ltd

Major Clients

Royal Household

In March 1840 four ‘large glass frame heads with composition enrichments’ were supplied for the Small Drawing Room, Buckingham Palace at a cost of £39. Also for the same room were six ‘large glass frames richly ornamented with composition husk & acorn with rich festoons of fruit & flowers, brass foliage, bases & ornament laid on glass with carved initial V.R. to design’. With other frames for pictures the total of the goods invoiced came to £188. Invoices from Jackson to the Royal Household continued until 1857.

Frame makers

Jackson & Sons account books, held in the V&A Archive of Art & Design (AAD/2012/1/2/1-3), record some of the carvers, gilders and frame makers who worked with the firm. These include the following tradespeople listed in BIFMO: 

John Brooker, 1816-17; Thomas Byfield, 1812-17; James Carter, 1817; Benjamin Charpentier, 1812-16; J. Cock, 1815; Robert Cribb & Son, 1812-17; William Cribb, 1813-16; Charles Cutter, 1813-15; Day, 1817; Dolman & Son, 1817; John Eckford, 1813-18; Thomas Fentham, 1817; Peter Ferraro, 1814-17; Robert Flinn, 1813-17; Freiker & Henderson, 1817; Joseph Garbanati, 1813-17; Charles Gerrard, 1817; John Goate, 1815-17; W. Gossett, 1814-17; Philip Goyer, 1813-14; Benjamin Goyer, 1813-14; Joseph Green, 1812-17; P. Guichard, 1817; James Charles Guillet, 1813-18; Joseph S. Ingleton, 1815-17; Jones & McLauchlan, 1817-18; Daniel Kennedy, 1816; William Knox, 1813-18; Joseph Lambert, 1816; John Lewis, 1813; James Linnell, 1813-16; James Lovell, 1814; Ralph Maddox, 1812-13; Alexander Marshall, 1813; John McLean & Son, 1814; Thomas Merle, 1815; Robert Milbourne, 1815-16; James Miles, 1814; Alexander Miller, 1813; George Morant & Son, 1817; Morell & Hughes, 1816-17; Charles Nosotti; Thomas Paley, 1814-17; Thomas Ponsonby, 1813-17; Edward Ratcliffe, 1814-16; Hugh Richards, 1814; Robinson, 1816-17; Michael Frederick Rutherford, 1816; Thomas Saunders, 1813-14; Frederick Seaton, 1814; William Sibley, 1812-14; John Smith, 1812-16; Samuel Smith, 1815; Thomas Smith, 1817; Richard Spencer, 1813-14; Thomas Sweet, 1816; James Taylor, 1816-17; Michael Tijou, 1813-14; Richard Tomlinson, 1812; William Wade, 1813-18; William Wilkinson, 1815; George Robert Woodward, 1813.

The accounts for Benjamin Louis Lecand, and that of another frame maker, Thomas Smart were sometimes marked, ‘paid by gilding’, which probably suggests that these two clients undertook gilding work for Jackson. 

The Jackson business also supplied John Linnell with second-hand frames rather than composition ornament: four old carved frames at £7.7s, four small metal ones at £1.4s and further frames totalling £4.3s.6d, all in 1817, and an old frame for ‘Mr Simpsons Picture’ at £1.4s in 1818 (see Linnell’s cash book, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 20-2000).

Harp Makers

An invoice to Sebastien Erard, the harp maker, totalled £66, c. 1811 (‘To 55 harps ornamentd compleat @ 24/-‘).  Jacksons also worked for the harp makers T. Dodd and Sons of 3 Berners Street, London.

Exhibitions
  • Great Exhibition, 1851. Exhibitor 5 in Class 26 (Furniture, Upholstery, Paper Hangings) the firm, described as designers & manufacturers, exhibited ‘ carton pierre, papier maché and composition for decoration and furniture’. The furniture mentioned in the catalogue were a console table, with boy etc., in carton pierre and a centre table. 2 of their decorative ceilings were also shown in the same Class. 
  • Paris Exhibition, 1855. Exhibitor 1687 in Section 5, Jackson exhibited architectural and other decorations, furniture in carton pierre.
  • London International Exhibition, 1862. Geo. Jackson & Sons exhibited carton pierre enrichments (exhibit 2434 in Class 10, Civil Engineering etc.) & furniture in carton pierre & papier maché including a composition torchere, a mirror, a trophy and a panel in carton pierre (exhibit 5727, Class 30, Furniture, Paper Hanging & Decoration) (Illus. Meyer (2006), p. 153).
  • Paris Exhibition, 1867
  • Paris Exhibition, 1878. The firm supplied architectural ornaments in the Pavilion of the  Prince of Wales, President of the British Commission
  • Other exhibitions, in which Jackson participated, were recorded in The Furniture Gazette: the Buildings Exhibition, Birmingham, 1882 [25 March & 6 May 1882) and the Manchester Fine Art & Industrial Exhibition, 1882 [18 November 1882].

A photograph of their ornament workshop is illustrated on the front cover of Bailey (1981) and other photographs are available on George Jackson Limited and The House Directory.

Sources: DEFM; Edward Joy, ‘The Royal Victorian Furniture-Makers, 1837-87’, The Burlington Magazine, November 1969; Nick Bailey, Fitzrovia (1981); Jonathan Meyer, Great Exhibitions. London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia. 1851-1900 (2006).