This brass and mother of pearl-inlaid mahogany tripod tea table is attributed to the German cabinet-maker, Frederick Hintz (died 1772) who worked at the sign of 'The Porcupine' in Newport Street, Leicester Fields, London. The table is one of a small though distinctive group of similarly shaped and inlaid tables, which have between 8 and 12 'lobes' and which are particularly associated with a community of émigré craftsmen resident in London. A number of these tables featured in the 1993 exhibition John Channon and brass-inlaid furniture 1730-1760 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, alongside other related pieces.
While sharing certain common features, this table in distinguished by the use of exotic mother of pearl, a relatively uncommon material at the time, and the inclusion of amusing figures of squirrels which almost certainly derive from a continental source available as prints from dealers in Great Newport Street and the Strand. Only one other tripod table is known to feature this motif (see C.Gilbert and T.Murdoch, John Channon and brass-inlaid furniture 1730-1760, New Haven and London, 1993, pp.113-120, and p.117, pl.149 and 150).
Hiintz was born in 1711 in Settin, a town in former East Germany. By 1737 he was living in London and as a member of the Moravian Church, a protestant religious movement that grew in Germany and England during the mid-18th century comprising communities of craftsmen, he worked under the auspices of the church. He is known as a maker of stringed musical instruments and, records show that in 1748 he made a harpsichord for the Moravian Chapel in Fetter Lane. He was also, as recorded in 1738 in an advertisement discovered by the furniture historian R.W.Symonds, a maker of 'Desks and Book-Cases of mahogany, Tea-Tables, Tea-Chests, and Tea-Boards etc. all curiously made and inlaid with fine figures of brass and mother of pearl'.
Other German cabinet-makers working in London at this time in a similar fashion were Abraham Roentgen, with whom Hintz appears to have had a close professional relationship (they travelled to Germany together in June 1738), and the lesser-known maker, Gern. Although labeled musical instruments by Hintz exist, until 2004 no documented pieces of furniture by him were recorded and attributions were based on stylistic analysis. However, research using the Moravian Church archives has revealed a bill to Charles Henry de Larisch for work completed by a John Frederick Hintz, dated 23 August 1753, detailing '2 mah. Card Tables, 6 mah. Chairs, 2 great Arm Chairs, 2 Great Looking Glasses' (Lanie E. Graf, 'Moravians in London: A case study in furniture-making, c.1735-1765, Furniture History, 2004, p.15). Other tables that can be attributed to Hintz are in the Victoria & Albert Museum, museum no. W.3-1965, and another formerly in the collection of the Duchess of Roxburghe, illustrated in Ralph Edwards, Dictionary of English Furniture, vol.III, p.207, fig.15.
A closely related table was sold Phillips, London, 10 February 1998, lot 78 (£85,000 hammer), and another with similar top but an idiosyncratic base of triquetra legs with brass-inlaid shoe feet was sold Sotheby's, New York, 26 May 2000, lot 196 ($280,750 including premium).