An unusual, Georgian Cuban mahogany table with desk and cupboards to the central pedestal.
It is likely that this piece of furniture was made for use on board ship, its multi-purpose being ideal for the quarters of a cabin that would also have housed cannon. It is a good-sized dining table that could also be used for laying out charts or maps; it has storage space; there is an area for writing and a drawer for taking writing equipment and papers etc. These attributes would, of course, also be useful in a domestic setting and it is possible that it may have been made for a gentleman’s library. However, you might expect a library or office to also have a desk and so not need provision on such a piece of furniture.
The desk has a central pedestal with a cupboard to each end and a large table leaf to each side. Above each cupboard, to one side there is a drawer with shaped dividers to take inkwells, pens, instruments and papers and to the other a writing or reading board. They both have ring pull handles and the board, once pulled out will unfold to double in size and reveal a red baized surface. The cupboards each have one shelf that can be set to 15 different positions, some ridiculously low others far too high. The panelled doors have good hinges that allow them to open to a 180 degree angle. The central door handles and escutcheons are engraved gilt brass and, with the cupboards locked, can be used for the moving the desk on its castors.
The 4 lopers for the table flaps are unusual, mahogany bars with ring pull handles. They pull out from the top sides of the cupboard to a length of 13 inches and are hinged so that they will fold at a right angle once full extended, to support the flaps. The full size of the table top is 63 inches (160 cm) with both flaps up.
The desk sits on a plinth base with bracket feet that hide the castors. The gilt, carved moulding decoration to the edges of the top, to the cupboard doors and the egg and dart moulding to the top of plinth base are in the manner of William Kent.
This is a one off, bespoke piece of furniture, probably commissioned by a wealthy naval officer whose status afforded him larger quarters on board ship. The only comparable piece of furniture we know of is a Georgian Cabin or Map Table that can be seen in our website archive. Although smaller in size, the proportions are similar and it was also likely made as a commissioned piece for a specific use. An interesting, early piece of Georgian travel furniture. Circa 1740.
Size given is with the table flaps down.