Pattern books, early trade catalogues and many other rarities

You are invited to an online seminar organised by The Furniture History Society, chaired by Dr Mark Westgarth.

At this event, members of the Bedford team from Special Collections at the University of Leeds will highlight some of the rare books and ephemera in the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History and explain more about the ambitions of the cataloguing project.

Chaired by Dr Mark Westgarth, the presentations will be followed by a discussion with the Bedford team and an opportunity to ask questions.

About the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History

When the art and antique dealer John Bedford died in February 2019 he gifted a remarkable collection of rare books, manuscripts, artworks and objects to the University of Leeds. Assembled over almost half a century, the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History is an exceptional resource covering all aspects of the English home, from interiors and furnishings to lighting and metalwork, drapery and upholstery to architectural and garden design.

Comprising over 3,000 printed items, many of them extremely rare, and in some cases unique, the collection includes furniture pattern books, designs for ornament and inventories of country houses. The archive is also rich in rare ephemera including trade cards, labels and pamphlets, many of which are unknown outside this collection.

The John Victor Bedford Will Trust, with great generosity and vision, is funding a cataloguing project based in Special Collections at the University of Leeds to make the collection fully searchable and accessible.

About the speakers

Dr Mark Westgarth is Associate Professor in Art History and Museum Studies at the University of Leeds and also Director of the Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market. He has been instrumental in developing antique dealer collections at Leeds; Mark is a Council Member of the FHS.
Rhiannon Lawrence-Francis, Collections and Engagement Manager: Rhiannon has operational oversight of the project to catalogue the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History. She visited John at his Guernsey home a few weeks before he died, and planned and managed the transfer of his collection to Leeds. A medievalist by background she is responsible for the rare book collections in the University Library and has a special interest in incunabula, early modern printing, provenance and bookbindings.
Dr Rachel Eckersley, Rare Book Specialist: Rachel is responsible for cataloguing the pre-1851 books, researching provenance, and promoting the collection. Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher at The Centre for the Comparative History of Print (also at Leeds), a library digitisation assistant at the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, and a research fellow in book history at Queen Mary University of London.
Rosie Dyson, Collections Officer: Rosie is currently researching trade cards and ephemera. She is undertaking work to catalogue, digitise and repackage John's collection of trade cards and associated ephemera and has written several articles on her findings so far. Her background is in photography and digitisation.

Booking information

The event will be hosted on Zoom.

Tickets cost £5 (free to Furniture History Society members and to staff/students at the University of Leeds).

Book here.

For any queries, please email


John F. Lacourt trade card, John Bedford collection MS 2241/4/1/174. Image credit Leeds University Library.