Founded in 1845, Edwards and Roberts were among the foremost English cabinet-makers of the second half of the nineteenth century. By 1854, the firm was trading as 'Edwards and Roberts, 21 Wardour Street, Antique and Modern Cabinet Makers and Importers of Ancient Furniture', and had expanded so rapidly that by 1892, they had taken additional premises in more than a dozen different buildings in Wardour Street and the surrounding neighborhood. While they were known primarily for their high quality reproductions of eighteenth century furniture, they also sold pieces of their own design as well as re-fashioning furniture which incorporated earlier elements (see C. Wainwright, 'The Dark Ages of Art Revised: or Edwards and Roberts and the Regency Revival', The Connoisseur, June 1978, vol. 198, pp. 95-105). Certainly, the Great Exhibition of 1851 popularized a revival of Renaissance designs and this design inspiration can be noted in the boldly carved figural supports of this desk, reminiscent of fifteenth century Italian furniture.R
The quality of the furniture produced by the firm is notable. A Chippendale revival chair bearing their label is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, as well as other examples of Regency Revival furniture including a chair after a design by Thomas Hope and an elaborately brass-inlaid commode. Similarly, a magnificent suite of Regency revival brass-inlaid furniture comprising a cellaret, ten chairs, two pedestal cabinets and console table, sold in these Rooms, January 30 1988, lots 487-491.
The numbering of the Chubb lockplates is indicative of the date of production of this desk. While the records are not available in their entirety, an organ in the collection of Temple Newsam House, Leeds based on an 1877 design source bears a lockplate stamped with the number 683637 (illustrated in C. Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Loterton Hall, Leeds, 1978, vol.II, p.412, no.534). This, together with other notations on Chubb numbers in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, would suggest that the lockplates, and the date of production of this desk, is circa 1870. A related Irish desk of a slightly earlier date made by Dublin's leading cabinet-maker Robert Strahan & Co., featuring bold lion carved angles, was sold in The Irish Sale, Sotheby's London, 2 June 1995 (lot 42).