The marble top is recorded in a letter from Joseph Darmanin & Sons, Marble Workers, No.45 Stradde Levante, Malta, dated 23rd January 1839.
'To be finished in two months from date an oblong Marble Table Top of six feet length by two feet five inches broad cut in old shape by three sides and one side straight to put in the Hall, with old marble in the centre from Carthage, green border Calabrian marble, a fine yellow border marble and black Genoa marble round the edge, for fifteen pounds sterling including cases - £15... accepted and when finished to be directed to Sir D. Hunter Blair, Ayr, (N.B. case of Captain Sharpe)'.
The reverse of the letter is inscribed in Sir David Hunter Blair's hand - 'Jan 25th 1839 - Sent the original to Capt. Sharpe... who has kindly offer'd to take charge of the table (top), pay for it, and take it home..' (Blairquhan Archive).
The table is recorded in an invoice to Sir David Hunter Blair Bart., from James Morison, 83 George Street, Edinburgh on 31st December 1842. The invoice records
'A Table of stained wood, and carved, for a marble slab - £21.0.0 (Box and Expence of packing £1.18.6) - (n.b. Paid for carriage from Edin. to Ayr 14 7.)' (Blairquhan Archive).
The invoice is later recorded as being settled on 18th April 1843 in a note from James Morison (Blairquhan Archive).
The beautiful Maltese marble table top, with an antique Carthaginian fleur de pêche tablet set in a serpentined border of Genoese golden-flecked black 'portor', was commissioned by Sir David Hunter Blair Bart. (d.1857) as a banqueting hall sideboard-table at Blairquhan in 1839. The order for a columnar-cornered top to be scalloped on three sides in an 'old' eighteenth century shape, was executed through the services of Captain Sharpe; and was to be supplied, together with a packing case, for a cost of £15. The 'Marble Workers Darmanin', who provided 'Monumental and Mosaic Slabs and other Ornamental Work', were patronised by travellers making the Levantine Grand Tour, such as the author Sir William Stirling of Kier (d.1878). Two of his Darmanin table tops featured in a Christie's sale at Keir Mains, Perthshire, 22-24 May 1995 (lots 62 and 63).
The Darmanan family imported marbles and semi-precious stones from Messina and the Aegean, and their premises in a former convent were visited in 1839 by Lady Montefiore, who admired their items that appeared to be in imitation of 'Florentine mosaics' (the diaries of Judith Lady Montefiore were published in 1885).
The 'Elizabethan' black frame, no doubt also designed to an 'old shape' under Sir David's direction and incorporating his armorial crest of a stag's head, was executed by the Edinburgh firm of James Morison (d.1862). While the armorial cartouche is framed by 'picturesque' scrolls of Roman acanthus in 1740s fashion, the tables fretted and jewelled trestles have palm-flowered columnar corners with bobbin-turned pendants in the William IV style, as featured in an 'Elizabethan' table pattern published in Richard Bridgen's Furniture with Candelabra, 1838 (pl.35).