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Elegance and Utility in Furniture

The Preface to the Guide

¶ To unite elegance and utility, and blend the useful with the agreeable, has ever been considered a difficult, but an honourable task. How far we have succeeded in the following work it becomes not us to say, but rather to leave it, with all due deference, to the determination of the public at large.

¶ It may be allowable to say, we have exerted our utmost endeavours to produce a work which shall be useful to the mechanic, and serviceable to the gentleman. With this view, after having fixed upon such articles as were necessary to a complete suite of furniture, our judgment was called forth in reflecting such patterns as were most likely to be of general use. In choosing such points of view as would show them most definitely and in exhibiting such fashions as were necessary to answer the end proposed, and convey a just idea of English taste in furniture for houses.

¶ English taste and workmanship have, of late years, been much sought after by surrounding nations; and the mutability of all things, but more especially of fashions, has rendered the labours of our predecessors in this line of little use: nay, at this day, they can only tend to mislead those foreigners, who seek a knowledge of English taste in the various articles of household furniture.

¶ The same reason, in favour of this work, will apply also to many of our own countrymen and artisans, whose distance from the metropolis makes even an imperfect knowledge of its improvements acquired with much trouble and expense. Our labours will, we hope, tend to remove this difficulty; and as our idea of the useful way such articles as are generally serviceable in genteel life, we flatter ourselves the labour and pains we have bestowed on this work will not be considered as time uselessly spent.

¶ To residents in London, though our drawings are all new, yet, as we designedly followed the latest or most prevailing fashion only, purposely omitting such articles, whose recommendation was mere novelty, and perhaps a violation of all established rule, the production of whim at the instance of caprice, whose appetite must ever suffer disappointment if any familiar thing had been previously thought of; we say, having regularly avoided those fancies, and steadily adhered to such articles only as are of general use and service, one principal hope for favour and encouragement will be, in having combined near three hundred different patterns for furniture in so small a space, and at so small a price. In this instance we hope for reward; and though we lay no claim to extraordinary merit in our designs, we flatter ourselves they will be found serviceable to young workmen in general, and occasionally to more experienced ones.

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