The dining-room chairs relate to the chair supplied by George Bullock for Napoleon's use at New Longwood, St Helena (sold from the Calvin Bullock Collection, Christie's London, 8 May 1985, lot 103 and discussed in M. Levy, 'Houses and Furniture for Napoleon on St. Helena', Furniture History, 1998, pp. 66-67 and p. 94, fig. 48). The design for this chair survives in the Bullock/Wilkinson tracings in the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery.
A comparable set of six chairs which were on the London market in 1994 included two stamped 'J.MOSELEY'. These were possibly by the Moseley family of carvers and gilders who were trading at Briggate, Leeds in 1805 and at Commercial Street in 1811.
Other related chairs with characteristic curved bar top rail and reeded uprights include a set of six sold anonymously Christie's, London, 8 July 1999, lot 22 (£10,350 including premium), and another set of ten sold anonymously Sotheby's, London, 4 June 1999, lot 399 (£16,675 including premium).
The practice of journeyman chair-makers stamping their initials is two-fold; it could identify the craftsman's work for payment purposes, and enable the employer to monitor the quality of work carried out. It was a practice that became more widespread in the nineteenth century and was certainly common in Gillows' workshops, with many pieces by or attributed to the Lancaster cabinet-makers bearing impressed marks. If the present lot is by Gillows, which is possible based on stylistic grounds and on the quality of timber and craftsmanship, the maker may be identified as either John Hamilton who was apprenticed to Richard Tomlinson, chair-maker, in 1811, and would therefore have completed his seven-year apprenticeship in 1818, or John Harrison, who was listed in the firm's payment ledgers from 1834-39 (Susan Stuart, Gillows of London and Lancaster 1730-1840, Woodbridge, 2008, vol.I, p.96, and vol.II, p.250).