George Austin

George Austin, a contemporary of Ross & Co. and Gregory Kane in Dublin, was a cabinet maker who enjoyed a very good reputation. He began as a maker of boxes progressing in his career to include larger furniture as opposed to a specialised maker of campaign furniture. However, part of his business was certainly aimed at the military with his Portable Writing Desks, Dressing Cases, Decanter Boxes and Canteens appealing to those who travelled.

One of the earliest recordings we have for George Austin is an advert he placed in the Dublin Evening Post on the 19th December 1829 notifying the public as to the suitability of his boxes as Christmas presents. His address is given as 7 St. Andrew Street. It is known that Austin was involved in his trade much earlier than this as another advert of 1832 states that he was a Manufacturer and Working Operative of nearly 20 years. Later adverts, although not giving a specific date, point to Austin starting work in 1813. It is likely that he started to learn his trade at this date under another manufacturer and started his own business in 1825. An advert of 1885, notes that they have been established 60 years.

Austin kept his St. Andrew Street address for a number of years. It was close to the corner with Wicklow Street and one door from William Street. He added further premises in 1836 at 9 William Street, which were only 100 yards form his existing shop. It was probable that it was at this date that he started to produce more pieces of furniture with the larger premises more suitable for displaying them. He certainly advertised William Street as a furniture warehouse. In December 1846, Austin notified the public that he had also added number 6 St. Andrew St. to his original establishment at No. 7. Thomas Austin, presumably George's son, also starts to get mentioned in his own right and alongside George in the press around this time. Thomas was credited as the first person to produce buhl work in Ireland in the Dublin Evening Mail on the 12th of July 1847.

Both father and son won numerous medals from the Dublin Exhibitions for their workmanship and it is obvious from their expansion and the patronage of notable members of society that their business was thriving. In 1847, Dublin Castle announced that the Earl of Clarendon, as the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, had appointed George Austin as his cabinet maker. Austin sent examples of his work to The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London and they were much commended. He made dressing cases from Irish bog yew for the purpose and the fittings were made of Wicklow silver.

By the early 1850's the business started referring to themselves simply as Austin's in their adverts and this was perhaps a clue to the greater influence of the second generation on the business. Aside from Thomas, it is known that George also had a son or grandson called George who worked in the family business and William, who died of dysentery at Spring Creek, Australia in 1854.

In September 1860, Austin opened new and extensive premises at 39 Westmoreland Street, whilst keeping St. Andrew Street for a cross over period until March 1861. They had sold bagatelle tables for a number of years but now, in their new premises, they also started to sell sporting equipment for cricket, croquet and indoor games. Infact Westmoreland Street saw a general increase in the variety of stock they sold.

At some point, Thomas and George junior must have been running the business as a partnership, with presumably their father retired, as the business relationship was dissolved on the 27th August 1866. It is not known if this was simply to move onto a different business footing and both brothers remained with the company or if George gave up his part. It was noted that all debts should go to Thomas Kingston Austin.

In April 1868 George Austin, the founder, died aged 73 after a 2 year illness. In December 1871, the business is named T.K. Austin & Co. in their adverts. The business continued to do well at Westmoreland Street and in 1884 expanded to included No. 38. The business footing changed once again and from August 1884 the name has changed to Austin and Co. Ltd.

Austin and Co. Ltd. were still advertising extensively up to 1891 but their adverts seem to stop at this date.

Related Antiques