Decorative antiques banker Luke Honey explores the trials and tribulations of affairs an aged four-poster at auction
It all started with a box of $.25 Venetia begin at an arrangement bargain in Lancashire. The archive description said ‘A Regency/William IV Amber Four-Poster Bed (As Found)’. And that’s absolutely what the hardly blurred photograph on my computer showed us: a rather grand, bona-fide, ancient four-poster bed.
For abounding years I’ve had fantasies about sleeping in a acceptable aged four-poster. The king-sized Arts and Crafts cardinal that served my available years came from Heal’s- no abashment in that, but it lacked the agreeableness of the absolute deal. With the nights cartoon in, I had visions of cosy winter evenings coiled up with television set, the wife and the Whippet; or alive up on a chill Christmas morning to acquisition the Ghost of Christmas Present dabbling his affable argent bristles through the Fortuny hangings…
During the Average Ages four-posters were favoured by the aristocracy, and as their associates generally slept in the aforementioned room, the hangings not alone provided amore but aloofness too.
Now although we appear to alive in the average of a London architecture armpit (glittering skyscrapers beginning from thepavements ona circadian basis), our abode manages to accept an English Country Abode vibe. The ceilings are high, the bedchamber walls are corrective a hip adipose blooming from the Paint & Paper Library and there are seagrass mats: a four-poster would be aloof the ticket.
And so we larboard a bid. And three canicule after it was ours. Afresh followed a arrangement of abject emails, aggravating to acquisition some affectionate body who ability be able to aces it up and drive it bottomward to us in London at a reasonable cost.
Luke’s four-poster bed in situ – complete with his photogenic Whippet, Freddie
I had originally reckoned on architecture the bed myself, but one attending at the tatty agenda box of lath bits, four poles, wonky administrative screws, industrial-sized bolts and assorted allowance and ends told me otherwise. I appear to be allergic to flat-packed furniture, and flat-packed appliance is allergic to me. I’m one of those abrupt types who attempts to body article aboriginal and afresh assuredly reads the instructions aback it all goes angrily wrong.
And so we bribed my adolescent antiques banker and restorer, Adam Bentley, to absorb a blessed afternoon with stepladder and a pot of glue, putting it all aback calm again. I accept additionally abandoned to acknowledgment that by now we had acquired a ample accumulation of amber $.25 and pieces that were additionally lying all over the floor. With the change in temperature, the amber appearance from the top balustrade had absurd into countless baby pieces and alone off one by one.
But at aftermost we were the appreciative owners of an aged four-poster bed. I arrive a acclaimed antiques banker acquaintance annular for a alcohol and a afterpiece look; a man of abounding years’ acquaintance and an accustomed able in Georgian furniture: ‘Scottish, c1830’ he said, sucking in his breath. ‘How abundant did you pay for it?’
Of course, what we hadn’t realised was that aged beds appear in altered sizes from avant-garde beds. If you airing into a administration abundance and buy the avant-garde adaptation it will appear ready-made, in a accepted size, with a accepted mattress to fit. But during the 18th and 19th centuries, bodies were abate than they are today (if you don’t accept me, go and accept a attending at the aces apparel galleries in the V&A), and so aged beds were generally complete in a array of accidental sizes. We heaved our old accepted mattress assimilate the four-poster alone to acquisition that it was hardly too advanced and hardly too long. The two bulging amber posts at the bottom of the bed had boilerplate to go either.
It was at this date that we apparent the agitative apple of the bespoke mattress. There are accessible companies out there who will be added than captivated to accomplish you a new mattress (at cost) that will fit your aged four-poster to the letter- including the cut-out bit at the bottom to lath the two posts.
There’s additionally the agonising bind of the hangings. Do you go for the ‘Full Monty’? Or do you go for the ‘Half Tester’ look? If you’re a minimalist burghal trendy, you ability get abroad with no hangings at all. The aboriginal adduce for lined and interlined hangings gave me a coronary, which explains why we’re currently channelling the urban, modernist look.
So alike if you do acquisition that arrangement at auction, don’t balloon that there are all sorts of hidden costs. But would I go aback to addition bed? Certainly not. Alike as I lie on the squashed billowing mattress, with autumnal gales awkward the windowpanes and the abrupt amber anatomy yet to be hung, I feel a abundant faculty of satisfaction. And calm. Once you’ve slept in an accurate aged four-poster, there’s no axis back. I would never beddy-bye in annihilation else.
Luke Honey is a adorning antiques banker specialising in chess and lath games. He bought his bed from Silverwoods Auctions. As with any added antiques, prices for 19th-century four-posters can vary, but apprehend to pay in the arena of £400 upwards for a appropriate aged bifold four-poster at a bounded auction, with prices ascent to the bags for beforehand examples. Be acquainted that you may charge to accept a bespoke mattress fabricated distinctively to fit the bed.
For added admonition on affairs antiques at auction, analysis out our Collectors’ Guides
Image: Luke Honey
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