Margaret Caroline Rudd was a forger and with the identical twin brothers Daniel (with whom she had three illegitimate children) and Robert Perreau, started manufacturing fake bonds. The trio was apprehended, but while the Perreau brothers were condemned to death, Rudd was acquitted and later began another of a string of affairs, this time with the writer James Boswell.
The Hepplewhite period marquetry dressing table, which is thought to have been made for Rudd’s home in Harley Street, is one of a number of current offerings at WR Harvey that have passed through the shop before.
Second generation director of the shop David Harvey recalls many of the items and the stories around them in his new book on the history of the dealership.
Walter Harvey, David’s father, came to London in 1938 on the last Kindertransport from Austria before its annexation. He fought in the Second World War before returning to England and opening his premises in Chalk Farm, London in the early 1950s. David joined the business in 1971, and in 1996, as the director of the company, moved the business to Witney in Oxfordshire where it remains today.
The desk, now available for £65,000, was sold through WR Harvey twice in the 1980’s and has now returned from its previous home in a private Viennese collection.
Another piece available at the exhibition is an early 19th century mahogany partner’s desk which the gallery previously sold to a Swiss doctor who added a baize lining to the drawers where he stored his medical instruments. It is available at the exhibition for £12,000.
The annual autumn exhibition opens tomorrow and runs until November 20.