Antique Military Campaign Chest by Ross & Co of Dublin Circa 1870 Number 78
Antique Military Campaign Chest by Ross & Co of Dublin Circa 1870 Number 78
Exceptional Victorian Military Campaign Chest of Drawers made of Camphorwood, dating to late 19th century Ireland circa 1870, the chest in two halves with flush brass mounted corner and angle brackets, scratch moulded drawers and pierced brass escutcheons and embossed loop drop handles, alll original brass drawer locks by Hobbs & Co with one working key, raised on turned ‘screw on feet’, this campaign chest is quite typical in size and appearance until closer inspection, the top drawer has a makers plaque stating 'Ross & Co., Manufacturers, 9, 10, 11 Ellis's Quay, Dublin’, this is a quality stand out piece of furniture made to the very highest standard by one of the leading manufacturers in the world, a truly stunning piece that will enhance any room, reserve now.
About Ross & Co:
Ross and Co. of Dublin were one of the most important makers of campaign furniture in the Victorian era and they are still considered as a leader in their field, today.
Eleanor Ross founded the company E. Ross at 6 Ellis Quay at the end of the 18th century. The business capitalised on the demand for portable furniture that accompanied the expansion of the British Empire in the 19th century. The increased movement of administrators, colonists and of course the army and navy to service Britain's overseas territories, provided a strong customer base for their campaign equipage. James Ross Murphy and Patrick Murphy are also associated with the business but their exact relationship to Eleanor is as yet unknown. It is likely Eleanor married James after the formation of her business and various newspaper articles refer to either a Mrs. Murphy, Messrs Murphy Ross & Co. or Mrs. Ross at the Ellis Quay address. Although examples of domestic furniture by Ross are known a large part of their business was campaign, designed to quickly fold or pack down for ease of travel.
The company advertised that they were established in 1790 but their earliest found advert is their directory listing of 1820 which states: Ross Eleanor, (furn. ware) 6, Ellis Quay. By 1822 the entry changed to Ross E. Army Furniture warehouse, 6, Ellis-quay. They remained on the quay throughout their history although their address is listed in the Dublin Directories at various combinations of the numbers between 5 and 11 and they are known to have also later had a factory at 35 Tighe Street (now named Benburb Street). These two locations were of course ideally located for the many officers stationed at The Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks) and this no doubt was a benefit to the business; a fact also picked up on by John Ireland, their neighbour and an Army Clothier, who was located at 11 Ellis Quay in 1850. The company's origin is unknown but in 1821 they are listed in the directories as being located at 6 Ellis Quay, and an advertisement from the mid 1800s states 'Established 1760'. Eleanor Ross is described in the 'Commercial directory of Ireland, Scotland and the four most northern counties of England 1820’ as being a proprietor of “furn. Ware”, 6 Ellis Quay.
Ross & Co. remained on the quay throughout their history although their address is listed in the Dublin Directories at various combinations of the numbers between 5 and 11 and they are known to have also later had a factory at 35 Tighe Street (now named Benburb Street). These two locations were of course ideally located for the many officers stationed at Collins Barracks and this no doubt was a benefit to the business; a fact also picked up on by John Ireland, their neighbour and an army clothier, who was located at 11 Ellis Quay in 1850.
Ross stand out from the many other campaign furniture makers of the period for a number of reasons but perhaps the most important is their originality in design. As can be seen from the adverts of the London makers of the day, such as Hill & Millard, J W Allen and Day & Son they were all making fairly similar campaign pieces. Their adverts would typically show a two part chest of drawers, a washstand, folding bed and a Douro pattern chair. There would be the odd item that was specific to a particular maker but generally by the mid 19th century there were standard pieces that most officers would require and which they could easily find from a number of makers. Apart from their most basic chest of drawers, which followed the traditional design, most items manufactured by Ross differed greatly to that by other makers. A number of their chests would have a clever, folding superstructure or an unusual combination of drawers, their washstands wouldn't have the normal brass standards adopted by the other makers but have turned columns and their easy chairs would put comfort at a premium.
Much of Ross's work can be considered typical of the William IV and Victorian periods in its use of the fashionable design features of the day. This would of course have given their cabinet making greater appeal than that which was purely utilitarian; an important factor to their customers who would mostly have been well heeled gentleman officers with an eye for the stylish. It also means that much of it is not obviously made for campaign until close inspection. A good example of this is the Desk Chair below, that breaks down into eight pieces for travel.
Ross & Co are the stand out manufacturers amongst all makers of campaign equipage for their originality of design and it can almost be imagined that they thought making a regular campaign chests would be beneath them.
Hobbs & Co Locks:
Alfred Charles Hobbs (1812 – 1891) was born in Boston in America. He became a salesman for one of America’s foremost lock manufacturers – Jones & Newell in 1840. He travelled to London for the 1851 Great Exhibition and caused a storm when he managed to pick both a Bramah lock and also the famous Chubb detector lock.
As a result of his newfound fame, he formed a company in London which was formally registered as Hobbs & Co. The firm went through various incarnations becoming Hobbs, Ashley & Co in 1855 and then Hobbs, Ashley & Fortescue and finally Hobbs, Hart & Co in 1860 based in Cheapside in London. They were very successful using advanced machine production methods.
In 1860 Alfred returned to America after the death of his partner Ashley. He had never intended to stay in Britain, so was happy to sell the thriving firm on to John Mathias Hart, whilst maintaining a beneficial interest in it. He returned to England in 1872 to celebrate their 21st anniversary.
Alfred Hobbs died in 1891.
Military campaign chests such as this one that were constructed for the colonies were usually made of Camphorwood, Mahogany or Teak because these woods had the advantage of only minimally expanding and contracting when exposed to extremes in temperature and humidity, Camphor is particularly resistant to woodworm, termites and other tropical infestations.
Ross & Co, Dublin
Made in Ireland
Military Campaign chest
Original brass handles
Brass key escutcheons
Working Hobbs & Co lever locks
Hand dovetailed drawer construction
Screw on Feet
Lovely rich colour and grain configuration
Excellent original condition
Practical & Beautiful
The chest is in excellent original condition, with minor age related wear, various knocks and marks adding to the character and personality of the chest, the top is flat with no significant marks and no splits, It is of generally a good rich figured pattern and colour. All brasswork is original and present as are all of the locks and escutcheons. The back panels are original and in good order. The feet are all in good order and condition, the feet are detachable and can be unscrewed, there are no odours or smells, all drawers open and close smoothly, the chest is structurally sound and solid with no evidence of any past or present woodworm, excellent original patina.
Width: 39”/ 99cm
Depth: 19” / 48cm
Height: 44” / 112cm
Height top: 18”/ 46cm
Height Bottom: 26” / 66cm
Free delivery is offered to England & Wales only when buyer pays full asking price, next day delivery is not possible due to the size of the piece, please allow between 7-14 days delivery