Wiliiam Smee & Sons was established in the 1820s in Finsbury, north London, by a Quaker called William Smee. The company operated as property valuers and agents at this time and upholstered coffins and acted as funeral directors for the Quaker community in Finsbury.
From the 1830s the company supplied furniture, brassware and soft furnishings. By 1867 the undertaking side of the Smee business was relinquished and the firm concentrated on its property agency and its growing furniture making business.
William Smee & Sons participated widely in international exhibitions. The company displayed its furniture at exhibitions in London (1851 and 1862) and Paris (1855, 1867 and 1878). Smee used only the finest quality wood to produce stylish and ornate designs. The company was quick to modernise its ranges to keep up with the changing fashions of the time.
Smee supplied households, businesses, hotels and retailers. The firm maintained competitive payment systems that varied according to the clientele and took as much pride in its lower priced articles as its superior ones. Customers were able to request modifications to a piece seen in the company’s showrooms or catalogues, ensuring that articles were made either less more expensive if needed.