The Robinson Crusoe Sideboard
I just received my copy of the December 2008 Victorian Homes magazine (yikes, Christmas trees already) and within the “Antiques” column was this extravagant piece of Victorian furniture, the 12 foot Robinson Crusoe sideboard, which was highly praised at the 1862 London Exhibition. It is currently being offered for sale by M.S. Rau Antiques.
It was carved by Gerrard Robinson (1834-1891), who at the time was apprenticed to Thomas H. Tweedy who displayed the sideboard at the Exhibition.
Robinson started out on his own shortly thereafter, encouraged by the response to his work. He created other masterpieces as well, such as the Shakespeare sideboard and the grandest of them all – the Chevy Chase sideboard, which M.S. Rau also had previously listed for $750,000. According to “History of Furniture” by Michael Huntley, the Chevy Chase sideboard is the most famous piece of carved Victorian furniture in the world.
Unfortunately, as tastes changed in the 1870s and ornate carving horrified the design reformers, Robinson was left to carving pub signs, doing book illustrations, and the occasional furniture piece. That didn’t discourage his son, William, who also became a woodcarver and whose work is displayed in the Shipley Gallery as well as St. Nicholas Cathedral.
You can see more images of the Crusoe sideboard at the RauAntiques.com site.