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Johnstone, Jupe & Co.; Johnstone and Jeanes & Co.; Johnstone and Norman; Johnstone, Norman & Co.(1835-1894)

Johnstone, Jupe & Co.; Johnstone and Jeanes & Co.; Johnstone and Norman; Johnstone, Norman & Co.

67 New Bond Street, London; cabinet makers and upholsterers (fl.1835-1894) 

Possibly the ‘Johnstone’ recorded as one of the buyers at George Bullock's sale of stock-in-trade in 1819, having acquired a book of tracings, drawings and timber, and in fact the biggest single buyer in terms of expenditure.

From early 1832 to 1838, John Johnstone and Robert Jupe were in partnership as Johnstone, Jupe & Co. In 1835 Robert Jupe patented a new extending, capstan table (patent no. 6788), which was made by the firm, (illus. Aslin, 19th Century English Furniture (1962) pl. 5). A number of stamped examples of the table, a teapoy and the firm’s engraved or impressed mark are illustrated in Gilbert (1996), figs 528- 537.

In 1836 the firm took legal action against Samuel Luke Pratt  who advertised a similar table. The jury decided in favour of Jupe, but Pratt’s lawyer filed for a non-suit and a new trial. In April 1837 the court dismissed the non-suit but decided that if Pratt paid for the entire costs of the previous trial and felt there was sufficient argument to win a new trial, this could be granted. No retrial was pursued. In January 1839 the partners parted ways with Jupe moving to 47 Welbeck Street, but Johnstone retained the patent for manufacture of the circular expanding table, as well as Jupe’s patented extending dessert plateau (which had been designed to complement the table). The firm became Johnstone & Jeanes after 1842.  

In 1846 Johnstone & Jeanes started to work on patents for new methods of giving extra support to chair backs and in 1848 produced a rosewood patented Coulson’s easy chair.  

Johnstone & Jeanes exhibited the expanding table, a patent plateau for dining table, mahogany sideboard and carved library chair at the Great Exhibition of 1851. At the Paris Universal Exposition of 1878 the firm displayed another example of the dining table, an oak mantlepiece and a sideboard (the latter two pieces illus.[The Furniture Gazette, 9 November 1878 & 8 February 1879] and were awarded a bronze Exhibition medal.

Johnstone and Jeanes (& Co.) were recorded in the Lord Chamberlain’s accounts, 1837-85. The firm charged 7s 2d per day for each cabinet maker and upholsterer working at Buckingham Palace, 6s a day for French polishers and 3s for women in 1845-50.  In about 1855, they supplied ottoman seating (RCIN 57978) and State chair, both for the platform in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace, cost £252 & £52. The Ballroom, designed by Prince Albert, was first used in 1856 to celebrate the engagement of the Princess Royal to Prince Frederick William of Prussia, in 1856.  The firm also carried out an inventory of furniture etc. at Clarence House in 1866.

More minor exhibitions in which the partnership participated were the Exhibition of Works of Art applied to Furniture, at the Royal Albert Hall, May 1881 [The Furniture Gazette, 7 & 28 May 1881] and the Exhibition of Modern Furniture held by the Society of Arts, Royal Albert Hall, October 1881 [The Furniture Gazette, 29 October 1881].

The 1882 London Post Office Directory listed  Johnstone Jeanes & Co. (Johnstone, Wetherell & Norman) at 67 New Bond Street and 15 Clipstone Street, London. Mr. F. S. Wetherell retired in 1882 with the business continuing as Johnstone & Norman or Johnstone, Norman & Co. [The Furniture Gazette, 18 November 1882].  The firm was recorded as the latter until at least 1891 at both  addresses; described as cabinet makers, house furnishers, upholsterers, decorators, artists in stained glass and carpet warehousemen in the annual Post Office directories.  

They displayed Chippendale & Sheraton style furniture at the Exhibition of Furniture, Royal School of Needlework, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London which opened on 18 February 1884 [The Furniture Gazette, 23 February 1884]. The same publication recorded that the staff and foreman of Johnstone, Norman & Co. met at ‘The Crown’ in Old Cavendish Street, for an ‘excellent dinner’ on 12 February 1884. Mr T. J. Norman was in the chair. Mentioning the success of the company over the past 100 years, he complimented various heads of the departments for their efficiency and hoped that 1884 would bring a revival in trade. Mr W. C. Codman (an artist to the firm) proposed a toast to the Staff and Foreman, which Mr Lloyd replied to on behalf of the former and Mr Windeatt for the latter.  The Chairman proposed the health of Mr Dines, manager of the Fitzroy Works, and on behalf of the Company he was presented with a silver liquor stand, as a mark of respect for him.  Other people proposing toasts etc. were Messrs Blowers, Purcell, Evans, Winter & Nobbs. 

In the same year they made a remarkable set of furniture, designed by Alma Tadema, for the music room of American millionaire, Henry G Marquand (cost £25,000); an armchair of which suite now at the V&A (W.25:1, 2-1980).

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

Armchair made of mahogany, with a cedar and ebony veneer, carved and inlaid with several woods, ivory and abalone shell, made 1884-86 [W.25:1, 2-1980]. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Specimens from the suite were presented to H.R.H. The Prince & Princess of Wales at Marlborough House before they went on view at 67 New Bond Street [The Furniture Gazette, 1 August 1885]. The Greek-style suite of furniture comprised a music cabinet, several settees, easy chairs, occasional tables, stools and a grand pianoforte, the workings of which were made by Steinway; all designed by Alma Tadema and made under the supervision of the firm’s artist, W. C. Codman.  In 2017 the Clark Art Institute of Art, Williamsburg, MA, USA, exhibited known pieces of the suite and associated drawings in a special exhibition, Orchestrating Elegance, Alma-Tadema and the Marquand Music Room.

Apart from special commissions the firm were general cabinet-makers; for example a display cabinet, c.1865, walnut, moulded, carved and fret-sawn, and a writing table, c.1870, satinwood, incised, carved and inlaid, with gilt bronze mounts, both formerly in the Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read collection. The writing table now at the Higgins Art Gallery and Museum, Bedford [HAGM:F.78].

In 1889 the firm refurnished parts of Windsor Castle and in December 1891 sold a set of ‘patent circular dining tables’ for use there. In June 1889, an exhibition of American furniture, textiles & stained glass was held at their New Bond Street premises [The Furniture Gazette, 1 June 1889]. A patent for a version of the expanding table was taken out in the USA, in advance of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where they exhibited prominently. The firm was responsible for all the internal fittings and furniture of The Victoria House, which was the centre of the British Commission at the Exhibition. Owen W. Davis and W. C. Codman, with Col. R. W. Edis, F.S.A. who was the architect of the House, designed the furniture and fittings in historical styles. Of particular note was the embossed leather, made by Jeffrey & Co., on the walls in the dining/waiting room, which was first executed for the new ball-room at Sandringham Hall, for H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.  

By 1894 Johnstone, Norman & Co. was financially failing and was taken over in mid-1894 by Morant & Co., although the firm’s name continued to be used until c.1911.

Sources: Royal Commission for the Chicago Exhibition, 1893. Official Catalogue of the British Section (1893); Aslin, 19th Century English Furniture (1962); Agius, British Furniture 1880-1915 (1978); Joy, ‘The Royal Victorian Furniture-Makers, 1837-87’, The Burlington Magazine (November 1969);  Kirkham, ‘The London Furniture Trade’, Furniture History (1988) p.131-2; Levy, ‘Charles Fraser, 1813-1818, and the Stock-in-Trade Sale, 1819’, Furniture History (1989); Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996); Wallis, ‘A Hand-List of the Handley-Read Collection’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present  (2016); Gere, ‘Charles Handley-Read as a Collector in his own Words’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present (2017);Kathleen M. Morris & Alexis Goodin eds, Orchestrating elegance: Alma-Tadema and the Marquand music room, Clark Institute of Art (2017); Morris, ‘A Patent Worth Protecting: Jupe’s Improved Expanding Dining Table’, FHS Newsletter (February 2018).