Altered English Tea Table, ca. 1750
Appraised Value: $4,000
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (58:20)
Senior Vice President & Director, American Furniture and Decorative Arts
GUEST: We bought it in Peterborough, England, at an antique show on a Sunday afternoon in late summer of 1984. I was in the Air Force at the time, and I was just finishing up a three-year tour at Lake Heath, England. Walked in this antique show, and my wife and I were drawn immediately to it. The dealer had a price on it, gave him a deposit, and he put a "sold" sign on it.
APPRAISER: How much was that?
GUEST: I believe we paid £1,500. That was about $1,800, $1,900 at the time.
APPRAISER: About $1,800, $1,900, okay.
GUEST: It was purported by the dealer to be a George I gentleman's supper table.
GUEST: And that's basically as much as I know about it.
APPRAISER: Okay, well, he mentions a supper table-- that's pretty close. These were tea tables, though.
APPRAISER: And tea was such a ritual and a ceremony in England in the 18th century. First of all, it was very expensive. Right. And it would have been a sign of major social status to be able to have a table like this filled with either silver or fine porcelain, and you'd serve your guests tea. It was a very formal setting that they were in. This particular table is one of the largest ones I've ever seen. Sometimes these tables get altered. And if we tilt this up, this particular table... I'm going to turn this around. And first of all, one of the reasons we know this is English and not American is that if you look at this block, it's an oak block. In America, that would be mahogany, like the primary wood. The other thing is these colonnettes on the bird cage in America would be balusters. They wouldn't be columns. They'd be these little turned round balusters or urns. But when we turn this up, we can see a lot. One of the big questions is whether the top goes to the bottom. Because this little peg comes out, as you know, in the top, and this pulls right out. So this one's original, because look at that shadow. You can see a great relationship of 250 years of tilting the table. It's wonderful. Now, condition-wise, one foot has a crack right there. It broke off. Luckily they saved the original piece. The other thing is if you look at the edge of this, you're going to see there's a little lamination line, which is right there. See that?
APPRAISER: All the way around. Also, the cleats here are shaved. I think this was originally not a pie crust tea table. It was a round table. It got reshaped and they added the edge to make it more expensive, more valuable. So that is a condition issue we have. The foot's much more minor, but this is much more serious. And you can see how they shaved the edge to do that. So... but it's still a beautiful table, and...
GUEST: When would you estimate that would have been done?
APPRAISER: I think in the last 100 years.
GUEST: Is that right?
APPRAISER: It could have been, you know, not far away from the time you bought it. With this alteration there on the edge, the retail price on this table would be about $4,000.
APPRAISER: Now, had it had the original edge, which has now been recut, it would have been closer to $8,000 or $10,000. But it's still a great table, and thanks for coming on.
GUEST:I enjoyed it very much, thank you.
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