APTER-FREDERICKS: 75 YEARS OF IMPORTANT ENGLISH FURNITURE
Through their long and distinguished history, Apter-Fredericks have handled some of the most remarkable pieces of English Furniture to come to the market. Their name is a byword for the very finest furniture and works of art, a reputation which has been built by three generations of the family over the last 75 years.
The business was founded by Alfred Fredericks in the 1940s, who was joined by his son-in-law, Bernard Apter, in the 1960s, when it was known as A. Fredericks & Son. From 1946 until very recently Apter-Fredericks, as it became known, was based in the same showroom on Chelsea’s Fulham Road. The firm evolved under Bernard and Carole Apter’s tenure from having been predominantly dealers of fine antiques to the trade since the 1940s, to, from the 1980s, supplying exceptional furniture and works of art to private collectors and museums. Bernard and Carole were subsequently joined in the family business by their sons, first Harry at the age of 18, and later Guy, who have run the business together since their parents’ retirement and between them have over 65 years of experience.
Apter-Fredericks have welcomed clients from all over the world to their showroom, who value their expertise, discretion and ability to seek out works of art of the highest calibre. For many years Apter-Fredericks exhibited at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair and most recently are co-founders of London’s internationally celebrated Masterpiece Fair, as well as exhibiting at the International Show and the Winter Antiques Show in New York. Important pieces to have passed through their hands in recent memory include: a magnificent George III rosewood bombé commode by Pierre Langlois, part of a small group of seven related commodes, four of which are in the Royal Collection; a Regency ‘Carlton House’ pattern ‘Boulle’ drum table by Thomas Parker, that was probably supplied to the Prince Regent; and a rare pair of George III padouk and manchineel chinoiserie pagoda-top cabinets-on-stands, attributed to the Royal furniture makers Vile and Cobb.
The distinguished list of museums to whom they have supplied works of art includes the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Birmingham Museum of Fine Arts, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, the Judges Lodgings Lancaster and Ham House; and in addition they have advised, amongst others, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Sir John Soane Museum, the Museum of London, the Huntingdon, the Bowes Museum, the San Antonio Museum of Art, The Chrysler Museum, The National Trust and English Heritage.
Looking to the future, Apter-Fredericks will continue to focus on the pursuit of masterpieces and visiting their clients, but with the closure of their eponymous Chelsea showroom – and therefore a necessary reduction of their stock – this auction marks the closure of one chapter and the opening of the next. Whether the grand or the more ordinary, the criteria for their acquisitions have always been quality, condition – particularly colour and patina – and provenance. This collection of objects includes both the important, such as the Gomm commodes (lot 10) and the functional, such as the dining-tables of different forms and sizes for which the Apters are so well-known. In each instance the items were chosen on their own merit and their condition is such that they are ready to place and use.
Included amongst the 140 lots in this sale are pieces of English furniture and works of art with aristocratic provenances, such as the Spencer House fustic and satinwood sofa (lot 50), the Langley Park bookcase (lot 25), the Weald Hall satinwood and marquetry cabinet (lot 55), and the Leinster House corner cabinets (lot 40), as well as mirrors that have adorned the walls of Cliveden, Stoke Place, Campsea Ashe and Freston Lodge. The list of the various makers represented by this selection of works of art is a veritable rollcall of the foremost craftsmen and designers of the 18th and 19th centuries: Thomas Chippendale, William Ince & John Mayhew, John Linnell, William Gomm, Matthias Lock, John Cobb, Matthew Boulton, George Bullock and Gillows. Alongside the furniture and English works of art there is a small group of Chinese works of art – enamelware and reverse-painted mirrors, screens and painted pottery figures – of the types traditionally coveted by devotees of English furniture and increasingly sought-after by international collectors.