Maple & Co. Established in 1841 on the Tottenhan Court Road in London by a 26 year old John Maple, Maple & Co. was a designer, decorator, builder, manufacturer and, most of all, a retailer of fine furnishings to the English carriage trade. At its peak in Edwardian London, Maple & Co was known as “The largest and most convenient,” not just in the West End of London or London as a whole or even Britain, but in the World! The Maple & Co. client list was extensive and impressive, including members of the British Royal Family, the last czar and czarina of Russia – for whom they designed the English Suite, a guest room at the Alexander Palace in Tsarsko Selo, Winston Churchill and the Cunard Line, for whom they designed much of the furnishings for the Queen Mary. Maple’s retailed pottery, porcelains, silver and other metal work and clocks from the finest makers in the Empire, often bearing the Maple’s stamped mark. Today, however, it is their bench-made furniture most often sought by collectors. Maple’s maintained a staff of seasoned craftsmen who had acquired their skills during long apprenticeships. Each of these craftsmen prided themselves on being able to craft a complete piece of furniture of high quality with one pair of hands. The resulting pieces, designed in all the great stylistic themes of Britain and the Continent, compare favorably with the originals at a fraction of their cost.
Limoges porcelain designates hard-paste porcelain produced by factories near the city of Limoges, France beginning in the late 18th century, but does not refer to a particular manufacturer. Limoges had strong antecedents in the production of decorative objects. The city was the most famous European center of vitreous enamel production in the 12th century, and Limoges enamel was known as Opus de Limogia or Labor Limogiae. Limoges had also been the site of a minor industry producing plain faience earthenware since the 1730s. The manufacturing of hard-paste porcelain at Limoges was established by Turgot in 1771 following the discovery of local supplies of kaolin and a material similar to petuntse in the economically distressed area at Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, near Limoges. The materials, which were quarried beginning in 1768, were used to produce hard-paste porcelain similar to Chinese porcelain. A manufactory at Limoges was placed under the patronage of the comte d’Artois, brother of Louis XVI, and was later purchased by the King in 1784, apparently with the idea of producing hard-paste bodies for decoration at Sèvres, although this never happened. After the French Revolution a number of private factories were established at Limoges, including Bernardaud and Haviland & Co. Limoges maintains the position it established in the 19th century as the premier manufacturing city of porcelain in France.