This coffin handle was registered with the Board of Trade in 1934, Registered Design No: 796583. It was cancelled by Newman Brothers’ Director, George Newman the same year.
One reason for a company to cancel a Registered Designs is to avoid legal action, another is because a third party had applied to remove the Registered Design. (The registration of a design may be declared invalid if the design is not new, or does not have sufficient distinguishing character.) link to registered designs. Another possible reason the design was cancelled is because the design was not selling (Registered Designs were subject to renewal fees every five years) This seems unlikely as the design was cancelled in its first year of registration, so this would appear to be a rash decision.
There is only one example of this handle in our collection and we currently do not know how many of these handles were ever sold. We think George Newman decided to cancel the registration on account of a petition of cancellation that was brought against Newman Brothers, but have no proof.
As a style, Art Deco retained the nature motifs of Art Nouveau, which preceded it, but replaced Art Nouveau’s organic shapes and pastel shades with bolder materials and stark colours, such as the chrome and black we see here. The movement began in Europe in the early 20th century and became after the First World War. It was still popular until around the time the Second World War broke out. Art Deco’s distinguishing features are simple, clean shapes, often with a streamlined look.