Saturday, July 5, 2014

COPE'S Patent?

Who is Mr. COPE?
I have posted several times about the importance of identifying original hardware as a primary means of authenticating antique furniture.  See my recent post on "Respect the Screw."  It is always a moment requiring thoughtful consideration as I work on antiques, whether I should remove a screw or other metal element which has never been touched before.  It is easy to x-ray furniture, and in the future, as they search more and more for period furniture which has survived, it is obvious that they will resort to x-rays to see the type of screw thread under the wood, without disturbing it.

In addition, during the 19th century, there were numerous design patents issued in several countries which are a matter of record, and it is common that the owner of the patent would mark his hardware accordingly.
Undisturbed and Original from 1825

I found it interesting that two different pieces of furniture came in for restoration at the same time, each with plate castors marked "COPE'S PATENT."  I searched briefly on the web and found lots of English Regency and early Victorian furniture with the same castors, but could find no real reference to the patent or its dates.

Marquetry Chest
The first piece which came in was purchased in France, and is a very interesting marquetry chest.  The inside is upholstered in tufted, floral fabric, and there is a large engraved key plate, which is very unusual.  The hinges which fasten the top are fixed with blunt screws dating pre 1846, but the wheels, marked "COPE" are fastened with later pointed screws, so they may not be original.  It is possible the round feet were added at some point.

In any case, it is not clear if this chest is English or Continental in origin.  The highly developed marquetry surface is a unique form of "jeux de fond" which includes a 3 dimensional pattern incorporating the cube in a grid.  Really interesting and creative.  I know of no other pattern like this in my experience, and I am dying to copy it on something.  The main veneer is Brazilian rosewood, and I suspect the chest was made around mid century.

English Rosewood Tilt Table
The next week I picked up an English Regency tilt top center table.  I was pleased to note that it had its original castors, also marked "COPE" and each fastened with original screws which were untouched.  In fact, this table is in fairly original condition, also made of rosewood, with gilt trim.  It appears to be from around 1830 or so by its style.

I wanted to post this and ask if anyone reading this has more information about these castors.  It would be great if I could find out more about Mr. Cope and his wonderful wheels.


JC said...

In a similar vein, we would have LOVED to find out more information, or an approximate date for the unique castors on this beautifully carved mahogany chair. The castors were stamped with "PARRY'S PATENT" on the small secondary brass wheels. I've never seen any other similar castors. See:

W. Patrick Edwards said...

What an amazing patent wheel design. Since the link you provided does not work directly from the comments page, perhaps you can send me a photo of just the wheel and I can post it for others to examine.

Anonymous said...

Doing my own research I stumbled across similar casters stamped Cope's and Collins. Hope that helps shed more light onto this mystery.