The author would like to acknowledge the advice and research materials provided by Shirley Nicholson, and the images provided in this section by the Society of Fine Art and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Decorated initial T

he furniture and decorating company of Jackson & Graham was operating from premises in 37-38 Oxford St, London, by 1836. It would become one of the most important firms of its kind during the Victorian era. This is saying a great deal, because furniture production was enjoying a tremendous boom: "Between 1819 and 1913, Britain's furniture output increased nearly fourfold" (Cohen 39). The partners of the Oxford Street firm were Thomas Charles Jackson (1807-1848) and Peter Graham (1811-1877), and by 1839 they had, in addition to the two townhouses with their prime frontage, a showroom containing £3000-worth of stock, and a considerable quantity of valuable plate glass ("Jackson & Graham"). Their trade cards show that they dealt with soft furnishings too, including upholstery and carpet-making, offering a wide range of services for all aspects of interior design. According to Diana Davis, they even "sold curiosities" (223), presumably to complement a room's new look.

Depending on the season and the volume of orders, the firm soon had 600-1000 employees, and was paying weekly wages to the tune of nearly £2000 (Symonds 7), a huge amount in today's terms. From the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace onwards, they exhibited widely: "at Paris in 1855, London again in 1862, and Paris in 1867 and 1878, and Vienna in 1873," and had the most illustrious of clients, including "Queen Victoria, Napoleon III, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, the Grand Khedive at Cairo, and the Royal Palace in Siam" ("A Seat at the Top Table: Victorian High Dining").


Cabinet designed for the firm by Bruce Talbert/

Not surprisingly, R. W. Symonds gives the firm as an example of one of "the few high-class establishments" (10) of its kind, and indeed the roll-call of its designers was an impressive one, including such well-known names as Owen Jones, Christopher Dresser, Thomas Collcutt, R. W. Edis and Bruce Talbert (see "Jackson & Graham"). It employed some skilled foreign designers as well. While French taste was in vogue for much of the time, a later preference was for the Oriental style, and the firm was not so much on trend as a trend-setter. With their international flavour, Owen's designs for the firm were particularly distinctive, since he "specialised in ebony inlaid with ivory and in metal inlaid and mounted furniture" ("Jackson & Graham"); but Dresser was equally influential. For example, in May 1876 he "organised an exhibition of art objects from Asia which opened at Jackson & Graham’s Oxford Street premises. Nearly 2,800 objects were exhibited, mainly from China and Japan" ("Jackson & Graham").

By this same year the company had expanded into a whole row of Oxford Street frontages. It weathered a bitter dispute with the workforce in 1874, when increased mechanisation led to work-flow delays and a pay dispute (see Edwards 22), and won the Grand Prix d'Honneur for the British Section of the Paris Internation Exhibition of 1878, mentioned above. But the inevitable changes to the partnership, as well as such ups and downs, were finally too much for it. It became bankrupt in 1882. Eventually the firm was amalgamated with Collinson & Lock in 1885. The "brand" remained current, however, with each of the erstwhile competitors using its own name for several years, and items from Jackson & Graham still coming on the market — for example, a display cabinet of 1889 which the Fine Art Society attributed to the firm. Such items bore no trademark, and have had to be identified by documentation, such as listings in exhibition catalogues; an attribution by the FSA, with its extensive archives, would of course be well supported.




Cohen, Deborah. Household Gods: The British and Their Possessions. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006.

Davis, Diana. The Tastemakers: British Dealers and the Anglo-Gallic Interior. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2020.

Edwards, Clive. Victorian Furniture: Technology and Design. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993.

"Jackson & Graham (1836-1885)." BIMFO (British and Irish Furniture Makers Online). Web. 18 September 2023.

"The Juno Cabinet." Victoria and Albert Mueum. Web. 18 September 2023.

"A Seat at the Top Table: Victorian High Dining." Lyon & Turnbull. Web. 18 September 2023.

Symonds, R. W. Victorian Furniture. London: Studio Editions, 1987.

Created 18 September 2023