Book Review: Furniture Brasses by Mark P. McGrail

Since my last post was British influenced, I figure, why change equines mid-stream.

For all you hardware and furniture nerds out there, Mark P. McGrail’s book, Furniture Brasses, A short History of English Furniture Fittings, is a great little resource.

Mark is pretty much The Man when it comes to furniture hardware. He’s been in the business almost 20 years and is the Director at Armac Martin Brassworks. Now, if you are not up on the furniture hardware industry, you probably haven’t heard of Armac Martin. But I can assure you, if you’ve ever drooled over the kitchens featured in House Beautiful Magazine, you’ve drooled over Mark’s brassy genius.

This book is a hoot! Expecting a dry read, I was pleased to come across such gems as Mark’s commentary accompanying this drawing:

Looking here at this chair you could be forgiven for thinking it has come out of some ultra modern 1970’s apartment when in fact it was designed and produced in Germany by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929.

Big British LOL there!

The dry humour persists throughout the book. Another favourite of mine:

Whilst it is widely felt that the Victorian style of furniture was ostentatious and gaudy it was at least a definite style, a positive taste appropriate to the spirit of the period. This cannot be said of early Edwardian furniture. Much of the furniture made at the outset of the twentieth century was no more than a shoddy imitation, following on from the mediaeval flavour of the Arts and Crafts Movement.


And this pic:

Don’t even think about putting non-suitable hardware on that dresser!

Blunt writing style, extensive drawings and interjections of editorial commentary make what could otherwise be a snoozer a clever little pocket guide that’s sized too large to fit into one’s pocket. Still, I like having it on my desk whilst writing about hardware. There is no index but the organization is linear in time so not a big deal.

And since my new thing (as of Thurday) is Campaign furniture, I’ll share with you the succinct writings on this style.

The Napoleonic wars created their own style of furniture which became known as Military or Campaign furniture. It was designed to make the maximum use of the storage space in the hold of a ship when transported overseas. The chests, desks, trunks and sideboards had no projections at all, even the brass handles were recessed into the wood.

I know Orion has a few of these books hanging around the office so if you just have to have one for yourself, ask him to throw one in with your order of Classic English Hardware and get that droolable look for your own kitchen.

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