When we bought this mahogany whatnot last week and turned it over, we were not surprised to see the label ‘Norman Adams’ attached to the underside. The name has become synonymous with the finest quality English furniture of the l8th and early 19th centuries.
Norman Adams was the son of a Bristol schoolmaster and antique dealer, and in 1928 opened his famous shop at 8 – 10 Hans Road, Knightsbridge, which only closed in 2009. He was known as an unrivalled supplier of what is possibly the finest period of English furniture. His ‘eye’ for quality was unerring, and many of the very finest pieces from the Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite eras passed through his hands. His particular passion was the importance of ‘patina’ – that elusive quality that builds up on the surface of a good piece. It is that extra ingredient that transforms the surface, giving it a lustrous depth.
In 1983 the Antique Collectors Club published ‘The Norman Adams Collection’, cataloguing some of his finest pieces, which is today often used as a guide to really good ‘period’ furniture.
This whatnot, dating from about 1800, displays the typically high quality of cabinet work. The turnings are restrained in design and crisply executed; the mahogany is of the very finest quality, and the colour has that lovely faded lustre.