A George III mahogany ‘social’ table attributed to Gillows, the horseshoe-shaped top set upon four reeded tapering legs with brass castors, each of the ends with a hinged leaf and joined by a brass rod, with a separate hemispherical leaf, also with a hinged extension, to fill the middle. English, c1810.
These informal dining or ‘multi-purpose’ tables were variously called social, summer, winter or horseshoe tables. They could be used by gentlemen to draw near the fire once the ladies had retired and the evening’s drinking could begin. Some had bottle slides and even silk nets strung across the middle to catch the empty bottles. In other versions the legs could be unscrewed and the whole table packed flat and thus easily moved from location to location, maybe even outside in the summer. Susan E Stuart in ‘Gillows of Lancaster and London, 1730-1840,’ Antique Collectors’ Club, Woodbridge, 2008, Vol. I, p.249, pl. 247, illustrates a very similar table and gives the following full description of one made for Stephen Tempest for Broughton Hall in 1813. ‘The centre section could be removed to form a horseshoe table and extended by supporting the two falling leaves on retractable ‘legs’. A brass rod also fits across the table for extra rigidity and helps support the centre loose leaf.’
Closed Height 28 inches Width 72 ½ inches Depth 36 ¼ inches
Open Height 28 inches Width 72 ½ inches Depth 42 ½ inches