The present dining-table is a rare example of Richard Gillow’s 'Patent Dining-Table' which was registered as patent no. 2396 in 1800. The original extending mechanism of this table featured a fixed central swivelling leaf around which the additional leaves were placed. A unique feature of the present table is the inclusion of ivory markers set into the edge of the leaves, which Gillows incorporated into the patent table to illustrate the intended order of placement of the leaves.
Gillow’s Lancaster Estimate Sketch Books include drawings dated June 1801 for a similar table ordered by Lord Strathmore which depicts the swivel mechanism especially designed for the model; while in 1802 another was ordered by Mrs. Richard Oswald of Auchincruvie, Ayrshire. The firm described to a customer the practical advantages of this form of table as ‘so constructed that the boards may be moved in 2 or 3 minutes to dine from 6 persons to 26 and are not more likely to be injured or out of order by common usage than other dining tables.’
A closely related table also featuring the ivory markers and similarly displaying a brass label reading ‘GILLOWS PATENT NO. 53’ is illustrated in Susan E. Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840, Woodbridge, 2008, pp. 240-242, pl. 234-239. Stuart suggests the engraved number indicates the latter was the 53rd table of this model to be made, implying the present table is a slightly later example. A further Patent Dining-Table with swivel mechanism sold Christies, London, 19 November 2009, lot 100 (£26,250 including premium).
In 1804 Gillows illustrated and patented their 'Imperial' dining-table which did not incorporate a swivelling leaf; instead all the leaves were loose and this form of mechanism seems, within a few years, to have largely superseded the earlier one.
Subsequently, most probably in the 19th century, the present table was altered and adapted to an extending frame, almost certainly by a cabinetmaker named H. Horton, whose tool mark is evident on the frame.