The dining-table relates closely to others by Thomas Butler, cabinet- maker of Catherine Street, London. He was active in the later years of the 18th century, but in the early 19th century he became known for manufacturing a variety of patent furniture. His repertoire is recorded on a pictorial hand bill illustrating beds, chairs and dining-table, with detachable legs like the present lot, the goods being 'particularly adapted and for travelling and exportation'. Related tables, some bearing Butler's engraved brass plaque, are illustrated in C.Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840, Leeds, 1996, pp. 128 - 130, pl. 173 - 178).
Butler was a contemporary of Gillows who, in 1804, illustrated and patented their Imperial dining-table in which a variable number of loose leaves were fitted between fixed end leaves, a design which, within a few years, largely superceded most earlier ones. Initially such tables had an arrangement of as many as ten or twelve legs to support the central leaves when extended, but as the design was improved and the mechanism became more sturdy the centre legs were gradually removed. The form remained popular and another drawing of an improved version of the table by Ferguson & Co, one of the successors to the Gillow family business, is dated as late as 1849 (see Susan E. Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840, Woodbridge, 2008, vol.I, pp. 243-246). See also notes to lot 348 for examples of Gillows' Imperial dining-tables.