The table was purchased by Mr. Carpenter from Grace Brown Gardner in 1973, and is referred to in the bill of sale as "one inlaid bed side table with some inlay missing from the front bedroom of my home at No. 33 Milk St." By tradition, the table was made for Charlotte (Coffin) Gardner, wife of William Bunker Gardner. According to oral history within the family, the table was made on board ship by either a ship's cooper or by Captain Gardner himself (Charles H. Carpenter, Jr. and Mary Grace Carpenter The Decorative Arts and Crafts of Nantucket p. 75 and plate XX). The Gardner provenance, scrimshaw panels and construction of the table support this claim. As determined by microanalysis, the table is made of mahogany, in spite of a grain pattern which suggests oak.
William Bunker Gardner (1811-1856) was born in Nantucket and married Charlotte Coffin in 1839. As Captain of the whaleship South Carolina, Gardner embarked on a whaling voyage from July 1848, returning in May 1848. From 1852 t o1854 he was the master of the Sarah Parker, a trading vessel that traveled between San Francisco, the Pacific Northwest, and Nantucket. Upon his return from Rio de Janiero in 1856, Captain Gardner was stricken with yellow fever and was buried at sea.