For over 200 years Cordings has been renowned for our waterproof coats. The iconic Cordings’ shop front in Piccadilly still has its original signage with the words J.C Cording and co Ltd waterproofers and we are still trusted to keep everyone from gamekeepers, the city gent and even royalty, warm and dry.

Early Advert: high class waterproofs.

Early Advert: high class waterproofers.

Thomas Hancock and Charles Macintosh, two nineteenth century inventors, between them perfected the process by which hard rubber was made pliable enough to be applied to cloth as a form of waterproofing. Hancock came up with the idea of sandwiching the rubber between two layers of cloth, known as ‘double texturing’. The same ‘double textured’ cloth is still used in Cordings Mackintosh collection today.

Thomas Hancock (left) and Charles Macintosh (right)

Thomas Hancock (left) and Charles Macintosh (right)

The first rubberised coats were marketed in 1824, revolutionising outerwear. Fifteen years later, when John Charles Cordings opened his first store in The Strand, he immediately saw their potential. He worked with Charles Macintosh to design an exclusive collection of practical and handsome styles for use on horseback and for the increasing number of motorcar drivers.

Early Cordings advert showing its rubberised coat collecion.

Early Cordings advert showing its rubberised coat collecion.


The process by which a Mackintosh coat is made has not changed since 1824, the rubberised cloth is cut by hand, and made into a coat using glue, a skill that takes a year’s training to perfect, and ensures that the coat is perfectly waterproof.Small eyelets are then added under the armhole to ensure that the wearer remains comfortable. Today the mackintosh coats are popular as sophisticated and lightweight coats, but their heritage as early performance wear can still be seen in practical details such as leg straps, and deep back vents.

A fusion between technology and luxury craftsmanship, these coats have become timeless classics, completely waterproof, immaculately cut, versatile, extremely comfortable, resilient, crease-proof and hard-wearing. That perfect combination of British elegance and practicality, indispensable all year round.

Graham Coxon Musician, in the Hampton Mackintosh

Graham Coxon, Musician, in the Hampton Mackintosh

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Cordings Country House Art Sale Part 2

Harrogate Store 24th March to 26th March
Our Country House Art Sale is a celebration, in art, of the British countryside throughout the 178 years of our history.
This collection of oil paintings, watercolours and fine prints represents what one might see in a Yorkshire Country House of the present day, reflecting the tastes and interests of Cordings customers. Works spanning the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries cover country pursuits, Yorkshire landscapes and those from further afield, with prices starting at under £100 and ranging up to £1000.
Michael Sayers curator of the exhibition explains “The Country House has been pivotal in the history of art-collecting in Britain; within the great houses of England, collections reflect the interests of generations of owners. From local landscapes and sporting motifs, to livestock and acquisitions from their European tours. In the 19th century collecting spread to a wider range of country house owners, including those of more modest means, but with no less passion for their pursuits and ever widening surroundings.
Most of these art works would have been contemporary at the time they were acquired and in many families collecting has continued in this way to the present day.
We are excited to show these works, collected over a period of two years to our customers in Harrogate, we feel they will be as enthralled by the subjects and styles as we are”

To attend the private view on Thursday 23rd March (6.00 to 8.30pm) please email harrogate@cordings.co.uk and we will send you a personal invitation.

The works below are just a small sample of what will be available in the sale – this second selection focuses more on 20th century artists. See our earlier blog post, where the emphasis is on works from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Into the Wind, watercolour, circa 2000 Owen Williams b. 1956

Into the Wind, watercolour, circa 2000
Owen Williams b. 1956

Into the Wind, watercolour, circa 2000
Owen Williams b. 1956
Williams is a self-taught artist who started with a passion for wildlife, in particular fishing and shooting, and then worked at the means with which to communicate that passion to others.
As a child in West Wales he enjoyed drawing and painting birds. On leaving school he headed for the bright lights of London to start a career in advertising sales. It was the success of selling six wildfowl pictures in the USA through a London gallery that convinced him that his dream was possible.
Today, his paintings are to be found in major collections in the UK, including that of HRH Prince William and throughout Europe and the USA. He has been commissioned to help illustrate several major bird books, and his sporting art has been used on the covers, and within Shooting Gazette, and Shooting Times magazines along with Shooting Sportsman magazine in the USA. He is a member of the design panel of the Welsh Books Council, and has designed and illustrated the covers of a number of Welsh language books.

Knaresborough Viaduct, watercolour, circa 1960 Walter Cecil Horsnell  1911 – 1997

Knaresborough Viaduct, watercolour, circa 1960
Walter Cecil Horsnell 1911 – 1997

Knaresborough Viaduct, watercolour, circa 1960
Walter Cecil Horsnell 1911 – 1997
Horsnell was born in Ware, Hertfordshire in 1911 and died in Harrogate, Yorkshire in 1997.
He was known principally as a landscape painter in watercolours, oils and pastels. He was an admirer of the French impressionists (notably Camille Pissaro) and this is very evident from his work.
He painted widely in the United Kingdom though he was best known in the county of Yorkshire where he made his home in the 1940′s after WW2. He became friendly with Dr Donald Coggan who was Archbishop of York in the 1960′s and who subsequently became Archbishop of Canterbury.
In 2014, The Mill Gallery, Knaresborough held a retrospective exhibition of his work.

The Young Master, Mezzotint engraving, circa 1890 Daniel Wehrschmidt after Frank Holl RA

The Young Master, Mezzotint engraving, circa 1890
Daniel Wehrschmidt after Frank Holl RA

The Young Master, Mezzotint engraving, circa 1890
Daniel Wehrschmidt after Frank Holl RA
Daniel Albert Wehrschmidt (1861-1932) was an American artist from Ohio who made a career for himself in England as a portrait painter, lithographer and engraver.
Wehrschmidt exhibited ten paintings at the Royal Academy, London, between 1886 and 1893. His 1905 portrait of Robert Falcon Scott was accepted by the British government in lieu of tax in 2012 and allocated to the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Francis Montague Holl RA (4 July 1845 in London – 31 July 1888 in London) was an English painter and royal portraitist.
Holl was born in London to family of noted engravers, being the son of Francis Holl ARA, as well as a nephew of William Holl the Younger and a grandson of William Holl the Elder, whose profession he originally intended to follow. He was educated mainly at University College School. Entering the Royal Academy Schools as a probationer in painting in 1860, he rapidly progressed, winning silver and gold medals, and making his debut as an exhibitor in 1864.
In 1869 he was recruited as an artist by the engraver and social reformer William Luson Thomas, to work on Thomas’s newly founded newspaper, The Graphic. In 1886 he produced a portrait of Millais as his diploma work, but his health rapidly declined and he died at Hampstead, north London, on 31 July 1888. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery.
Golden-Pheasants

Golden Pheasants, watercolour and body colour, 1947
James Alder 1920 – 2007
This striking painting was reproduced on the front cover of the Scottish Field in the November 1947 edition. An original copy of the cover comes with the painting.
Born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, James Alder was a painter, illustrator and sculptor of Natural History and described as the successor to the great engraver and artist Thomas Bewick. A major figure in Natural History in the North East, he served latterly as president of the Natural History Society of Northumbria and was awarded honorary degrees from the University of Northumbria and a Doctorate from Newcastle University. Working for several years as the chief Animalia sculptor for Royal Worcester, he produced many beautiful limited edition models in both porcelain and bronze.
Perhaps the pinnacle of his career were his two limited edition books of “The Birds and Flowers of the Castle of Mey” for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and the “Birds of Balmoral” for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Described by a leading art authority “James Alder was a towering figure of Natural History and wildlife illustration in the region for almost half a century”.

 "A miss is as good as a mile" watercolour illustration, circa 1900 Gordon Frederick Browne 1858 - 1932


“A miss is as good as a mile” watercolour illustration, circa 1900
Gordon Frederick Browne 1858 – 1932

“A miss is as good as a mile” watercolour illustration, circa 1900
Gordon Frederick Browne 1858 – 1932
Likely an illustration for The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Gordon Frederick Browne (15 April 1858 – 27 May 1932)
An English artist and children’s book illustrator in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
He was born in Banstead, the younger son of notable book illustrator Hablot Knight Browne (who as “Phiz” illustrated books by Charles Dickens). He studied art at the Heatherley School of Fine Art and South Kensington Schools and started to receive professional commissions while still at college.
From the 1880s, Browne was one of Britain’s most prolific illustrators, his work appearing in newspapers, magazines and many books by children’s authors including Frederic William Farrar, G.A. Henty, Juliana Horatia Ewing, Andrew Lang, Talbot Baines Reed, L. T. Meade, Catherine Christian and E. Nesbit.
Browne worked in watercolour and pen and ink. He was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) in 1896 and elected to the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) in1891. He exhibited works in most of the major national galleries, including 17 works at The Royal Academy, 26 at the Royal Society of British Artists and 132 at The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.
He died in Richmond, London in 1932.

Shore Birds, Watercolour and body colour, circa 1930 Indistinctly signed.

Shore Birds, Watercolour and body colour, circa 1930
Indistinctly signed.

Shore Birds, Watercolour and body colour, circa 1930
Indistinctly signed.
This is one of those frustrating situations that come along every now and again – a lovely watercolour, very well painted, but indistinctly signed. Try as I may, I cannot work out the signature and identify the artist. Clearly this was painted by a professional hand, this and the way it is inscribed with the title “Shore Birds” along the margin leads me to think it was probably painted as an illustration for a book or magazine. Experience has taught me that if I can’t work it out, even under a UV light then leave it and come back with fresh eyes after some time.
Let’s hope that works in time for the Country House Art Sale!

Giving Chase, Oil on Canvas, one of a pair dated 1869 Alfred Sheldon Williams 1840-1881

Giving Chase, Oil on Canvas, one of a pair dated 1869
Alfred Sheldon Williams 1840-1881

Giving Chase, Oil on Canvas, one of a pair dated 1869
Alfred Sheldon Williams 1840-1881
Here is a good example of a mystery resolved over time – in our last blog post I was unable to positively identify the artist when showing the other work of this fine pair of oil paintings. Well at last I have tracked down the monogram and compared these paintings with other work by the artist.
Williams was born into a farming family from Winchfield in Hampshire, where he lived for all his short life.
He was a successful painter in Oils and watercolours, exhibiting 33 times (including 4 works at The Royal Academy and 6 at the Suffolk Street Gallery) in London galleries from 1867 up until the year of his untimely death. He specialised in equestrian subjects and a number of his works were published as engravings; re-strikes of which are still available from Rosenstiel’s, the fine art publishers, to this day.
He was the father of Inglis Sheldon Williams who was also an artist. Inglis and his mother emigrated to Canada in 1887 a few years after his father’s death, where he became a professional artist and illustrator and later an official war artist during WWI.

Beggars Bridge, Glaisdale. Ink drawing, circa 1950. Frank Armstrong FRSA 1900 - 1967

Beggars Bridge, Glaisdale. Ink drawing, circa 1950.
Frank Armstrong FRSA 1900 – 1967

Beggars Bridge, Glaisdale. Ink drawing, circa 1950.
Frank Armstrong FRSA 1900 – 1967
Original illustration for the Dalesman magazine. Armstrong was a Fellow of The Royal Society of Artists and many of his drawings were reproduced in the “Dalesman” magazine. Some of his finest work was executed in pen and ink. He produced large drawings on the spot, in front of his subject. They show how much can be conveyed with just a line.

Tawny Owl, Oil on board, 1974 David Cemmick b.1955

Tawny Owl, Oil on board, 1974
David Cemmick b.1955

Tawny Owl, Oil on board, 1974
David Cemmick b.1955
David Cemmick has been a freelance artist since his first sell-out solo exhibition in 1974, at the age of nineteen – the exhibition at which this work was originally purchased.
Over the past four decades he has travelled extensively, gathering field experience and documenting scientific expeditions in some of the world’s remotest habitats. He has painted the ethno medicinal plants of Madagascar for Dr David Bellamy’s Conservation Foundation, illustrated two books focusing on the endangered Kakapo Parrot and Black Robin and the ground-breaking conservation work of the New Zealand Wildlife Service and studied coral and fish communities on Jamaica’s Morant Cays coral atoll, whilst painting under water.
These, and many other field expeditions, have helped fuel his deep respect and fascination for the animal world and given him the thirst to make ‘art’ from what he has seen in nature, from field sketch to finished painting and sculptures. Living just outside the Lake District National Park, in the foothills of the Cumbrian Pennines, David is constantly inspired by the changing dramatic landscape and the abundance of nature he sees every day.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Cordings Covert Coat

Given its well-documented history and enduring popularity since its conception by Cordings in the 1900’s, the iconic covert coat has a lot to live up to. But live up to it, it certainly does. This is one of those classic British style pieces that reaches across the generations and speaks both of fine quality and perfect practicality. Designed originally as a riding coat, the covert cloth is both durable and smart, hence its modern day incarnation as a trustworthy, comfortable, everyday overcoat.

The Cordings covert coat, quintessentially British style since its creation.

The Cordings covert coat, quintessentially British style since its creation.


The Cordings covert coat is part of the heritage of British gentleman’s clothing, so much so that the V&A museum have one of our very own covert coats in its permanent collection. Its versatility, immaculate tailoring, neat lines and functional style means that it has become a modern classic, much coveted the world over.

Not that this is the origin of its name – covert is a hunting term, from the French couvert meaning a thicket, which in English came to mean a hiding place for game birds. The tightly woven twill fabric and rail road stitching makes it very durable, thus designed to resist when charging through the brambles on horseback. Nowadays, however, it is just as likely to be seen on the man about town, appropriate for almost every occasion and an indispensable part of every man’s wardrobe.

An early advert from the 1950's showing the covert coat.

An early advert from the 1950′s showing the covert coat.


The covert cloth is still woven exclusively for Cordings, to its original specification, by Fox Brothers in Somerset, a mill with an even longer heritage than Cordings, having been founded in 1772.
Cordings Covert Coat Interior

Covert cloth, still woven exclusively by Fox Brothers

The coat boast functional details, retained from its origin such as a poachers pocket, designed for game, but more usually used these days for newspapers, a deep centre back vent, which made the coat practical for horse riding, and still makes the coat more versatile today.

There are very few garments that embody that quintessential British style quite as succinctly as the Cordings covert coat.