Learn about Tunbridge Ware

This is the name given to an exclusively English form of wood mosaic, which was first made by local craftsmen in and around Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

Tunbridge Wells had become a fashionable place to take the waters early in the seventeenth century, and, as most people indulging in this healthy pastime were in effect on holiday in the town, with money to burn, local craftsmen soon began to take advantage and manufacture items made by this process, which is noted for the great variety of woods and colours used.

The most common items made were boxes in various shapes and for various purposes, but the Tunbridge technique was also used to decorate clocks and furniture.

It was in the early part of the nineteenth century that Tunbridge Ware came into its own with the invention in 1820 of the tessellated mosaic.

Thin strips of wood of different colours and grain were glued together and pressed down tightly in blocks. more...
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A fine burr walnut writing slope with Tunbridgeware trims, 19th century, the flat topped arched lid with perspective cube key fret borders in coloured timbers, a bordered mother-of-pearl cartouche and matching escutcheon, opening to a baize lined writing p

A Victorian Tunbridge ware writing slope and a rectangular box, the slope 30 x 25 cm, the box 27 cm wide

Tunbridge Ware burr timber inlaid box with a silk lined interior lid & later work to the box interior. A burr veneer with two bands of geometric inlay, mother of pearl inlaid keyhole, with a key & certificate.

A Tunbridgeware rosewood work box, later 19th century, the box with a fitted compartmentalised tray covered in red patterned paper, the box with bold patterned parquetry borders and mother-of-pearl escutcheons; with key, height 12 cm, width 25 cm, depth 17

An antique mahogany Tunbridge ware casket, 19th to early 20th century, the small domed casket with a diamond motif in mixed timbers and decorative banding to the lid, the escutcheon similar, with key. Height 10.5 cm. Width 17.5 cm. Depth 8 cm

Antique Tunbridge ware sewing box, with fitted interior, 25 cm x 19 cm approx ( af to lid and hinges)

Antique Tunbridge ware stationery box, decoration with a castle scene, flowers and scrolling foliage, 21 cm wide, 13 cm high approx

A fine Victorian Tunbridgeware box, circa 1860s, the finely worked parquetry box, with a large diamond set within borders to the lid intricately decorated with a tapestry style floral mosaic in natural wood tones and soft colours against a darker ground, w

Antique tunbridge ware box with fitted interior, 25 cm wide approx

A Victorian rosewood and Tunbridge-Ware sewing box. Width 30 cm

Mid 19th century Tunbridgeware sewing box with fitted interior and sewing accessories A/F

A Victorian tessellated Tunbridge ware box, late 19th century, resembling petit point, the finely tessellated box having floral and patterned veneer borders to the sides and lid, the centre with a similarly worked floral spray upon a blonde wood panel; lin

Three Victorian footstools with beaded and floral upholstery, including a walnut and Tunbridge ware example (diam27 cm); a rosewood footstool with raised beaded cushion (width 31 cm) and another circular (diam 39 cm). (3)

Early Tunbridge ware box, decorated with a scene of a house on the lid, ornate borders and a flowering plant band around the base, interior is fitted with filing compartments, 25.5 cm wide, 16.5 cm deep, 15 cm high

Wooden Tunbridge Ware writing slope, approx 16.5 cm high, 30.5 cm wide, 23 cm deep

Tunbridge ware sewing box, on 4 bun feet & with key, 26 x 19 x 9.5 cm approx

Antique Tunbridge ware tea caddy, with mosaic floral decoration & domed hinged lid, 14.5 cm high approx

Tunbridge ware glove box, with mosaic scene of ruins to lid, 27 cm wide approx

Tunbridge ware sewing box, retains T Barton manufacturers paper label to base, 23 ax 17 x 8.5 cm approx

Tunbridge ware card games box, one with mosaic cribbage board to lid & retains T Barton manufacturers paper label to base, 20 x 12 x 6.5 cm approx

Tunbridge ware card games box, with removable cribbage board, 23 x 15 x 8 cm approx

A Victorian walnut and Tunbridge ware casket. Width 29 cm

Antique Tunbridge Ware cotton reel box of coffin shape, with Sotheby's Belgravia label to base, 16.5 cm long approx.

A Victorian walnut Tunbridge Ware box, circa 1880s, with mosaic patterned bands in colours around the box and with a hexagonal cartouche and matching escutcheon, and having black silk lining; with key. Height 10 cm. Length 19.5 cm. Width 12 cm.

An antique walnut and tunbridge-ware fitted writing box, English, circa 1880, with geometric inlay along the corners. 16 cm high, 40 cm wide

A Victorian figured walnut and inlaid box, latter half 19th century, rectangular with a hinged arched top enclosing a fabric-lined interior, the top and front with bands of Tunbridge Ware-type geometric decoration flanking in inlaid mother-of-pearl centre-

A Victorian glove box, the top inlaid with herringbone Tunbridge inlay and a panel of Coromandel wood, the fascia and walls with satinwood. Width 28.5 cm

A quill work sewing box late 18th century, the rectangular lidded box set with fine brown and gilt edged paper quill work, internally segmented to store sewing equipment including a netting winder and a Tunbridge house tape marked in nails, 21.5 cm wide. I

A Tunbridge Ware box, circa 1890, the hinged lid set with a faux ribbon border surrounding a central plaque, the interior lined in navy blue fabric. Height 12 cm. Length 25 cm. Width 16 cm

Early Victorian Edmund Nye Tunbridge Ware box (12.5 x 7 x 3.5 cm

A Victorian walnut Tunbridge Ware box, circa 1880, the hinged lid set with a central medallion of a light house upon a rocky outcrop surrounded by a flower head border. Height 9.5 cm. Length 22 cm

An unusual specimen wood inlaid sewing box of Yachting Interest, last quarter 19th century rectangular, veneered in woods including burr walnut, ash and mahogany, the cover inlaid with a central cartouche depicting Queen Victoria's Royal yacht, H. M. Y Alb