342. A Set of Holtzapfel Woodworking Chisels

London, 19th century
Case size: 79 × 113 cm (open)
74 chisels (one missing from the full set of 75)

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The Holtzapffel dynasty of tool and lathe makers was founded in Long Acre by Jean-Jacques Holtzapffel in 1794. The family came from Alsace, and became known for manufacturing high-quality tools and lathes, a business that they maintained successfully until 1930. In 1819 they moved to premises at 64 Charing Cross until 1901, when, after a brief stay in Bond Street, they settled in Haymarket. Jean-Jacques’ son, Charles, wrote the definitive work on ornamental turning, which ran to some 3,000 pages. They eventually closed down because turning went out of fashion. This set of chisels remains a reminder of how close artists and artisans once were. In Dresden, the tools, lathes and magnifying glasses were venerated as much as the objects they produced.