A Rare c.1870s Oak & Lead Laboratory Table by Philip Harris & Co Ltd


Origin: English
Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1860-1880
The Top: 24.25 inches square
Height: 34 inches

The heavy-set English oak carcass with chamfered block legs and undertier shelf, under a well patinated thick leaded work surface top, with makers ivorine plaque reading ‘Philip Harris & co Ltd Complete Laboratory Furnishings Birmingham & Dublin’ survives from 1870s Britain.

Remaining in highly desirable original condition, the original leaded top has a wonderful patina, with a host of character blemishes, knife marks and old stains, in keeping with its age and heavy use. The English oak is very sound though the stain is uneven in places, though the whole remains very sound. There has been no restoration or meddling of any sort.

Philip Harris Ltd was a British laboratory supply company with a long history that has now been subsumed into a succession of larger, more anonymous corporations. In its heyday the company was known to all science teachers world-wide as one of the two "first-call" suppliers for the peculiar needs of school science.

The company was originally based in Digbeth, Birmingham and started by Thomas Ellis, a Surgeon, in 1817. At the time Philip Harris would have been only 15 or 16 years old and he joined Ellis in 1825. The company traded as a wholesale Chemical Laboratory Company occupying its Bullring site until 1889 when silver nitrate was selling for 9 Shillings per ounce. They started manufacturing medicines and drugs in 1866, adding to their sales of chemist and surgical products. Later biological and manufacturing units were established at Weston-super-Mare in the 1960s and 70s.

A scarce and sought after example of highly decorative scientific salvaged furniture.