Saturday 7 April 2018

A Rare & Unusual Georgian Campaign Table.

A Rare & Unusual Georgian  Campaign Table.

When you first see this late 18th century table you may not think it is "campaign" or that unusual. Maybe the first clue to it not being what it appears would be that the top is made from two pieces of timber.
 Once seeing this you next thought might be " The top is from a card table. That can't be right." You decide to have a closer look and see what its all about.

     So what do we notice from this photo:
        1. The top is hinged but not folding upwards like a card or table but        downwards. Most odd.
        2. The timber to the top and side rails is a dense Cuban mahogany.
        3. Unusually, the legs with their boxwood stringing are made of a lighter possibly Honduras mahogany.                    Can this table be right ?

Lets have a look underneath and see whats going on.

Interesting. We have 8 iron hinged fixings that are connecting the top to the base section. Lets undo these and see what happens.

Undoing the hinge fittings has allowed the top to be removed and further iron fittings allow the legs to be removed from the frieze rails. So we have a table that completely dis-mantles.

So, what can we deduce from this?
     From the style of the square tapered legs with the boxwood stringing this table would date to around 1790. We know that at this period in the second half of 18th century cabinet makers were experimenting with different designs to make furniture that could be dis-mantled to make it portable.
       At this period the campaign furniture would look like its domestic equivalent and would usually be made by cabinet makers rather than makers who specialised in travel furniture. Some of the known  furniture designers  of the time included some portable furniture in their design books but there were not, that we have discovered, that many designs available for their subscribers. 

 For this reason we occasionally come across furniture which we believe were bespoke made for a client and possibly one off  pieces. I believe that to be the case with this table.
      Two last details that should be mentioned are that all the fitting are iron as opposed to brass which is unusual. Possibly, even blacksmith made that leads me to believe that the table is more likely than not made by a provincial cabinet maker. Secondly, why did the maker not put hinges to the top section the other way around to allow the top to close and protect the polished surface as opposed to this way that means it will not close flat as the iron hinges are in the way?

By Simon Clarke.