This eccentric table relates to a distinct group whose maker has yet to be identified. Among these were two tables in the collection of Fred Skull. One, which was acquired in 1952 by Judge Irwin Untermyer after Skull's death and subsequently bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, was sold Christie's, New York, 11 December 2014, lot 9 ($40,000 including premium). The second was later sold from the J. Ivan Yates, Esq. collection, Sotheby's, London, 2 April 1971, lot 33. Other notable examples from the same group include one illustrated in M. Jourdain and F. Rose, English Furniture: The Georgian Period (1750-1830), London, 1953, p. 107, fig. 75 (with photo credit to Phillips of Hitchin, Ltd.), and subsequently sold from the collection of Jerome C. Neuhoff, Sotheby's, New York, 25 January 1986, lot 190 ($18,700 including premium). A further tea table with closely related base but with a rectangular tray-top, is illustrated in R. Edwards and P. Macquoid, eds., The Dictionary of English Furniture, 1927, vol. III, p. 198, fig. 10.
The present table differs in having comparatively plain legs (the others generally, though not always, have leaf carved legs), and somewhat bulbous columns. The lot offered here is also distinct in having an oval pad and turned foot beneath the leg scroll. The X-pattern lattice in the gallery may be a refer to the saltire cross of St. Andrew, which features on furniture associated with Alexander Peter, the Scottish cabinet-maker and follower of Thomas Chippendale.
The pattern relates to designs for 'Claw Tables’ published in Ince & Mayhew's pattern book,
Universal System of Household Furniture of 1759-62, plate XIII. Such tables were often used for holding tea and coffee equipage, thus also often called Tea-Tables in late 17th and 18th Century terminology. By the mid-18th century with the proliferation of tea-drinking, tea gardens in London had been found to be gathering spots for the more unsavory elements of society, leading the well-heeled and fashionable ton of the day to retire to private tea-rooms appropriately furnished with such ornamental tables.