The Rawlinson Bookcase

Contributed by Judges Lodgings

The Rawlinson Bookcase

This is a carved and inlaid mahogany secretaire bookcase, made by the famous cabinet-making company of Gillows of Lancaster.
The bookcase was made for Mary Rawlinson, the rich widow of Thomas Hutton Rawlinson, founder of the most powerful slave-trading company in C18th Lancaster. Mary Rawlinson was a Quaker and might have been expected to have commissioned a less ostentatious piece.
Gillows employed their most skilful craftsmen to execute the exceptional carving, marquetry and superb veneers. It was principally made by Thomas Dowbiggin (1738-1811). It is the most important fully provenanced piece known to have been made in the early period of Gillows, founded by Robert Gillow in 1728. The detailed estimate for its manufacture, which survives in the Gillows Archive in Westminster City Library, provides invaluable information on the furniture trade in the C18th.

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