Brass Fenders Of The Later Eighteenth Century

ments of the rooms which they designed. Fabrics, carpets, curtains and valances, the embroidery of silks for chairs, and even grates and fenders, were all carefully designed to carry out their schemes in the same style throughout. Fig. 86 shows one of the Osterley grates, the sketch dated April 22, 1773, and carefully drawn in full detail. The incongruity of the design is that the length of the bars is only 1 foot 7 inches, whereas the entire width is over 4 feet, a somewhat unnecessary waste of space merely for ornamental purposes.

  1. 87 is the design of a grate and fender for the Earl of Coventry, and is signed " Robert Adam, Architect," and dated 1765. Although an early example, the designs are simple and effective. Adam was probably the originator of the well-known type of brass pierced fender, which is so usually described vaguely as " Georgian."
  2. 88 is a grate designed for Sir Abraham Hume in October 1779. It will be noticed that Adam made no difference in his designing whether his materials were wood, composition, or metal. The side vases with their pendant husks are exactly the same as in his pier-glasses, and the fact that the one is in steel and the other a mixture of whiting, resin, and glue does not seem to have weighed very much with Robert Adam. Apart from these trifling omissions, however, there is a severity and chaste refinement with nearly all the designs of Adam, which probably accounted for their popularity among the wealthy. One can forgive his faults as a designer, as he is never vulgar. The same cannot be said of much of the work of Chippendale.
  3. 89, 90, 91, and 92 are four designs of grates made for Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn's house, 18 St. James' Square, in 1774. There is no attempt at repetition, even in the case of two adjoining drawing-rooms, where the same pattern might have been esteemed an advantage.

In the same way as the furniture designs of Robert Adam were considerably modified by the cabinetmaker, so were his sketches of grates accepted in a general sense only. Considering how much wearisome iteration is evident in his designs—the same motives being repeated over and over again—it is surprising how great] his influence has been, and still is, on the trades of the makers of grates and fenders. The educational value of this influence has been too frequently underrated, as, although it is easy to adopt Adam details, their use, in combination with the Adam proportions, is by no means an acquirement possessed by every designer. His style has been travestied ; an ornamentation of swags or medallions is even now forthwith dubbed as being in the " Adams " style. Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton suffered in an equal degree ; it appears to have been the penalty which all the eighteenth century designers paid to posterity. It would have been remarkable had Robert Adam escaped. If his style was sometimes travestied, it was, as a compensation, frequently refined. The pierced brass fenders and fire implements which were so fashionable from 1760 down to the present day nearly all exhibit the designing influence of Robert Adam. In Figs. 93-110 some examples of these interesting specimens of the brass-worker's art are given. The Adam influence is apparent in nearly all, especially in those of more delicate detail. It is regrettable that the composition of the brass used at this period was not conducive to resistance of atmospheric effects. In the first volume, in the chapter on " Brass Door and Drawer Furniture," the difference between eighteenth and nineteenth century brass was pointed out. Brass, as is well known, is an alloy of copper and zinc, but the proportions vary very much according to the purpose for which the metal is intended. Thus, where great tenacity is required, as in such articles as these pierced fenders, the proportions are usually three-fourths copper to one-fourth zinc, by weight. The zinc being about half the weight of the coppei, the relative masses of the component parts of this alloy are as three to two. The greater the proportion



of zinc, the harder and more brittle is the brass, and the less its resistance to the action of the atmosphere. Thus, with the modern brass-mounted bedsteads of commerce, where the alloy is hard and the material thin, the mountings are soon eaten away by the corrosive action of the atmosphere, until they become as brittle as charred paper. During the eighteenth century the relatively high value of copper as compared with zinc led to an alloy being used with the latter metal greatly preponderating. So small is the proportion of copper in some instances—as, for example, in drawer-handles and candlesticks—that these, when burnished, are frequently mistaken for silver. With such articles as these, which are frequently handled and polished, the high proportion of the zinc does not seriously impair the life of the article ; but with pierced fenders, where the air acts on the raw edges of the piercing, and with fire implements used with damp coal, the oxidisable nature of the zinc soon causes the metal to rot away. Thus it is exceedingly rare to find delicate pierced fenders or fire-shovels of the period in anything like a well-preserved condition, although, as a rule, the other implements— tongs, poker and standards, are usually better preserved, owing to their stouter nature and the absence of raw surfaces upon which the atmosphere can act readily. In some instances steel was substituted for brass, but the effects of oxidisation were here still more disastrous in their effects. In some rare instances silver, in alloy with brass, was used, and fire-dogs, upon which considerable sums were sometimes expended in chasing, were often gilded as a protection against the destructive effects of the atmosphere.

The Adelphi Lottery.

HE scope of this book being limited by its title, which confines it solely to furniture and woodwork, a chapter which concerns itself with the architectural rather than the furnishing side of the work of the brothers Adam would be inexcusable were it not that certain facts, very material to our purpose, are to be gleaned from an account of the Adelphi Lottery. There is a further excuse in the case of the Adams ; their architectural work and their designs for furniture have so much in common, always with a distinct leaning in the direction of bricks and mortar, and especially stucco, that the latter, both in material and motif, can often only be styled furniture by straining a definition.

The name " Adelphi " Gr. brothers) was adopted by the Adams, both in christening the district on the south side of the Strand of which they wrere the pioneers, and for a signature, or professional name, on man}7 of their original drawings now in the Soane Museum. Their offices were at this period in Robert Street, and thus the brothers were the " Adelphi " of Adelphi.

John, James, Robert and William Adam were all engaged in this enterprise, and they obtained the lease of a plot of land, from the Strand on the north (with certain exceptions) to the Thames on the south, and from Adam Street on the east to William Street on the west, on slightly varying leases, of which from 91J to 92J years were unexpired in 1774, and on this land they erected, as a speculation, the buildings collectively known as the Adelphi, and comprising Adelphi Terrace, Adam, John, William, Robert and James Streets. The brothers also appear to have been the leaseholders of certain houses in Queen Anne and Mansfield Streets, near Portland Place, which were included in the Adelphi Lottery scheme, and of which more hereafter.

With the exception of many of the window-heads and architraves on the Adelphi Terrace, the district is nearly in the same state as in 1774. The characteristic Adam work is only to be noticed in certain instances (some of the houses were unfurnished in 1774), notably at Nos. 12 and iS John Street,—in the latter of which the Society of Arts is housed,—the end and the two centre houses in Adelphi Terrace, and the superior and inferior cornices and friezes which run the whole length of the terrace, No. 2 and the doorway of No. 19 Adam Street, the house on the south corner of Adam and John

Streets,—now the O.P. Club,—the balcony of the third floor of Adelphi Chambers in John Street and the doorway of No. 10 Adelphi Terrace, and the Victoria Institute building, both in John Street.

One particular design of door, architrave and pediment appears to have been used in several instances, notably in Nos. 19 and 20 John Street. These probably represent the latest addition to the Adelphi shortly after 1774. The same pattern of pilaster is also to be seen on many of the houses—an enriched Tuscan capital surmounting a panelled pilaster with stucco ornaments of a highly conventionalised honeysuckle design, the one pattern repeated above the other.

It is probable that all the available capital of the four brothers was sunk in this enterprise ; the lottery prospectus frankly states that the scheme has been found to be beyond their means and is therefore unfinished. Added to this, as far as letting the properties, the undertaking appears to have been a failure, many of the houses being let either to the brothers themselves or their business dependents.

In 1773 the Adams appear to have obtained an Act of Parliament, authorising them to submit the whole property to public lottery, and they engaged in the prospectus to issue only such number of tickets as would reimburse them for their outlay, together with a further sum of £1500 allowed by Parliament towards the expenses of the lottery, which they state to be " a Sum not equal to a third part of the expense which must be incurred." Four thousand three hundred and seventy tickets were issued at fifty guineas each, and there were 110 prizes, of an estimated total value of £218,500. The sale of the tickets produced a gross sum of £228,425, and according to the prospectus, they were to be had at the Adams' offices, in Robert Street, Adelphi, " every day, Sundays excepted, from ten o'clock in the morning to six o'clock at night." The drawing was advertised to take place at the Guildhall. The prospectus states: " The Messrs. Adam have thought it unnecessary to give so particular a Description of the Houses in the Adelphi as they have done of the houses in Queen Anne Street and Mansfield Street, as these Buildings are so generally known by Persons who reside in Town ..."

The first prize, of the value of £50,080, is stated as follows

A House in Oueen Anne Street, Cavendish Square, with a Ground Rent of

A House on the West Side of Mansfield Street, together with 2 Coach Houses, and Stabling for 6 horses, in the occupation of Lord Scarsdale, let for 7, 14 or 21 years, with a Ground Rent of £37, 16s. . . £6,400

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