A Very Rare Pair of Victorian Cinema Cast Iron Figural Bench Ends


Origin: English
Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1885-1900
Height: 25 inches
Width: 13.5 inches (at maximum)
Depth: 3 inches (at maximum)

The figural bench ends formed by two gentlemen in bowler hats, akin to comedy and tragedy, the legs forming the bases, the scalloped tops surmounted with undulating softwood scrolled mounts. To the centre of the figures are pierced grills with further decoration in the form of a shield with flame and scrollwork motifs.

The bench ends are in fine order, to the reverse there are stamped marks UR and L within a circle. One of the soft wood tops is slightly loose to one end but this would be easily rectified, and there is general consistent wear consummate with age to the ebony coating with a small amount of flaking.

Cinema arrived in England in around 1895 and reached almost every corner of the globe by the end of 1896. At the close of the nineteenth century the medium was firmly established as a form of entertainment, instruction and experiment, making a fortune in the process. These bench ends would have been part of that initial tidal wave of interest in the silver screen, changing the way that people viewed the world altogether.

With theatre interiors regularly being stripped and redesigned these very early examples are rarely found today, and could now be utilised in a multitude of ingenious ways. Once sitting in the cinema foyer, they now require a new picture palace, one they surely deserve.