Chippendale S-hole Locks and Escutcheons

Some of the less flamboyant everyday (non-commissioned?) case furniture produced in Thomas Chippendale’s workshop bore – what are reputedly his favourite[1]floral-and-torus bails (figs. 1 & 2).

Chippendale_bail_handle_c1765_01a Fig. 1. Plain brass floral-and-torus bail, circa 1765.


Fig. 2. Gilt brass floral-and-torus bail, circa 1770.

Almost exclusively, Chippendale also fitted much of this more sober furniture with back spring locks that had unique S-shaped keyholes (Fig. 3), keys (fig. 4) and commensurate S-shaped escutcheons (figs. 5 & 6).


Fig. 3. S-shaped keyhole in iron lock case, circa 1770.


Fig. 4. S-shaped iron key, circa 1770.


Fig. 5. Chippendale S-shaped brass escutcheon, circa 1770.

The intriguing asymmetry of the S-shaped brass escutcheon would have been Chippendale’s primary objective, though the encumbrance would also have minimally increased the level of security of the lock.

John Cobb (a contemporary of Thomas Chippendale) is also known to have employed S-shaped escutcheons which may (or may not) account for the example in figure 6.


Fig. 6. Reverse S-shaped brass escutcheon, circa 1770.

Jack Plane.

[1] GILBERT, Christopher, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, Tabard Press, 1978, p. 146.

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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6 Responses to Chippendale S-hole Locks and Escutcheons

  1. Simon Clarke says:

    We recently sold this trunk which had a similar escutcheon.

    I wonder if this design was copied from Chippendale as we have also seen English aswell as early c19th Anglo -Indian trunks using this design.


  2. john says:

    thanks sir have a desk with chippendale castors and it looks very interesting .cheers john


  3. Pingback: Picture This C | Pegs and 'Tails

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