This elegant tea-table was conceived for a window-pier and designed in the George II Roman manner harmonising with India-back parlour chairs with vase splats. Its architectural tablet-cornered top is wreathed in festive manner with a French flowered ribbon-guilloche; while its conforming frame evokes Arcadia and the banquets of the Gods. Appropriate for a tea-table, Neptune's realm is recalled at the corners by water-bubbled embossments that are framed in husk-frestooned cartouches of Roman acanthus that are tied by shell-scalloped ribbons to its gadrooned lambrequin of antique-fluted Pan reeds; while its columnar legs are truss-scrolled in the Romano-British manner and terminate in eagle-claws to recall Ovids Metamorphoses and his history of Jupiter's cupbearer Ganymede. Its hinged and folding frame is fitted with a stretcher-slide fitted for tea-equipment such as mote-spoons etc.
A number of concertina-action card-tables, always of high quality, bear hinges stamped by Tibats (see P. Thornton, 'A Signed Hinge', F.H.S.J., pp. 44-45). The stamp almost certainly refers to Hugh Tibbats or Tibats (the spelling varies) 'hinge and sash fastening maker' of Bell Street, Wolverhampton, listed in 'The Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley, Bilston and Willenhall Directory, 1781'.
The collection formed by Percival D. Griffiths, F.S.A (d. 1938). under the wise counsel of R. W. Symonds is considered to be arguably the greatest collection of English Furniture formed during the twentieth century. Indeed, it was Griffiths' collection that provided the content for Symonds' seminal work English Furniture from Charles II to George II, 1929. The interiors at Sandridgebury are happily recalled in 'Sandridgebury: The Country Residence of Percival D. Griffiths', published by Symonds in Antiques, March 1931, pp. 193-196. Symonds later published 'Percival Griffiths, F.S.A.: A Memoir on a Great Collector of English Furniture', The Antique Collector, November-December 1943, pp. 163-169. His collection has come to be recognised as a bench mark of excellence in the arena of collecting early to mid-18th century walnut and mahogany furniture and is discussed by E. Lennox-Boyd, 'Introduction: Collecting in the Symonds Tradition', Lennox-Boyd, op. Cit., pp. 12-31).
This card table has the distinction of having been owned not only by Percival Griffiths but also by another of the great twentieth century furniture collectors, Joseph Sassoon Sykes. J.S.Sykes was another member of the select group of connoisseurs advised by the Symonds. His remarkable collection is discussed in a series of articles published by Symonds including 'Eighteenth Century Mahogany, illustrated with examples from the collection of Mr. J.S.Sykes', Apollo, August 1937, pp.68-73. The Sykes collection was also used to illustrate Symonds' Masterpieces of English Furniture and Clocks, London, 1940.
ROBERT WEMYSS SYMONDS
Robert Wemyss Symonds (1889-1958), dominated the field of collecting in the mid-20th Century. Between 1921 and 1958 his five major books and countless articles formed and then reflected the taste of a generation. He was involved in the formation of almost all of the great private collections of English furniture and clocks of the time, including those of Percival Griffiths, Eric and Ralph Moller, Samuel Messer and Joseph Sassoon Sykes, and much of their furniture was used to illustrate his books. When sourcing furniture for his clients, Symonds laid particular emphasis on original patination, a well-balanced design and good quality carving and timber. Unlike many collectors today where the provenance is paramount, Symonds' primary concern was that the piece stood on its own merits, with or without an illustrious background.