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Holt Antiques at Walsingham Mill

Pair of Early 18th Century English Antique Dummy Boards of an Aristocratic Boy and Girl

Pair of Early 18th Century English Antique Dummy Boards of an Aristocratic Boy and Girl

Regular price £4,950.00 GBP
Regular price £4,950.00 GBP Sale price £4,950.00 GBP
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A fine pair of early 18th Century English antique dummy boards depicting an aristocratic boy and girl in period attire. Also known as "silent companions".

Acquired from a private collection in Spitalfields, London.

Painted in oil over gesso on pine board.

Dummy boards - A Brief History:

Life-size wooden dummy boards most likely originated from 17thC tromp l’oeil paintings produced in the Netherlands and remained very fashionable until the 19th Century. The original boards produced in the 17th and 18th Centuries are often life-sized although sometimes smaller and vary in quality. The figures usually resemble servants, soldiers, children or animals.

During the 18th and 19th Centuries, these decorative objects were highly fashionable among the European elite, especially amongst the English and the Dutch. They were produced up until the 19th century. They were often placed in the corners of rooms and on stairways of houses to surprise (uninvited) visitors. They were also known to reside in-front of empty fireplaces during the summer months. Some even suggest that the figures were used to ‘protect’ the house when the owners were away.

Until the late 18th Century, these painted wooden figures and animals were made by professional sign-painters who also produced hanging street signs.

However, at the beginning of the 19th Century, with improvements in mass production, quality declined, values fell and they fell out of favour. Many dummy boards were discarded and re-used as menu holders in restaurants and pavement advertising signs.

Condition - surface wear is commensurate with age. Both figures show some age related repairs to the timber boards and surface paint losses. Please refer to the images for further information.  A further detailed condition report is available upon request.


Boy - Height 103.5 cm (40 3/4") x Width 31 cm (12 1/4") x Depth (with stand) 17.8cm  (7")

Girl - Height 110.5 cm (43 1/2") x Width 35 cm (13 3/4") x Depth (with stand) 17.8 cm (7")

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We are a member of the following 3 Professional Institutions:

1. LAPADA (London and Provincial Antique Dealers Association) –  LAPADA is the UK’s largest trade association for professional art & antique dealers (representing approximately 500 UK dealer members). All items are backed by our LAPADA guarantee;

2. CINOA –Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d'Art, (or International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers' Associations) is the world association of art & antique dealer associations (representing 5000 dealers from 32 associations in 22 countries); and

3. The Norfolk & Suffolk Antique Dealers Association - Representing reputable, high quality antiques dealers based in Norfolk and Suffolk.

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