Bloomsbury Collection


Bloomsbury Frameworks traded in Bloomsbury, central London, from the middle of the nineteenth century until 2005 when the family firm's last proprietor, Peter Binning, died.  It is considered to be the only company of its type in Britain that has survived and continuously traded since 1837- the year Queen Victoria came to the throne.

From 1837 the company specialised in the production and application of 'composition ornament' for frames, mirrors and associated furniture.  The company supplied finely decorated frames for many leading public and private collections.  This early 'golden age' saw the birth of the National Portrait Gallery (1856), the V&A (1857), The National Gallery (1884) and the Tate (1897), originally as 'The National Gallery of British Art'.

The ornamentation was created using exquisitely detailed reverse-carvings in boxwood.  The fine skills that their wood carvers possessed have now been lost, but fortunately the moulds still survive as the 'Bloomsbury Collection'.  These reverse carvings, accumulated over the past 170+ years, now form a unique collection and perhaps the only unbroken large-scale collection of its kind in use today.

Joseph McCarthy had worked closely with Peter Binning for many years and, following Peter's death in 2005, the firm was incorporated into Joseph McCarthy (Fine Frames) Ltd.  This move ensured the Bloomsbury Collection is kept together and regularly used.

The Tate views The Bloomsbury Collection to be of "National importance to the history of frame making in Britain" and "of extraordinary cultural significance".  As such the Tate is working with Joseph McCarthy to research and catalogue the collection.