William Trotter (d. 1833), Edinburgh cabinet-maker, descended from a long line of merchants, upholsterers and cabinet-makers, ceased trading as Young and Trotter in 1805, continuing in 5 Princes Street as sole proprietor until 1810, when he opened new premises in 9 Princes Street. Among his important commissions and one which is well documented, is his furniture made for the Library and the Gallery at Paxton House, Berwickshire, circa 1814, (F. Bamford, 'A Dictionary of Edinburgh Furniture Makers, 1660-1840', Furniture History, 1983, pls. 49 - 61). The furniture at Paxton is strongly characterised by his use of gadrooned mouldings; however he also supplied furniture of a more restrained nature, along the lines of the London cabinet-makers, to other establishments such as The Speculative Society's room, Edinburgh University in about 1822, (ibid. pl. 63) and Dun House in Angus, in 1928 (H. Montgomery-Massingbird and C. Simon Sykes, Great Houses of Scotland, 1997, p. 160-171).
The present sideboard is based on a design by the Prince of Wales's, later George IV's upholsterer, George Smith, in his Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, London, 1808, pl. 92. The published design has acanthus-capped columns below the framed lion-mask and terminates in a circular moulding above the claw foot; whereas the present sideboard has Ionic columns with distinctive bands below, and the reeded column terminates in a plinth above the foot. These latter characteristics feature on a rosewood table made by Trotter for Paxton House in 1814. This slightly elongated and heavily moulded claw foot is also frequently employed by Trotter. (F. Bamford, op. cit, pls. 55B and 61).
Captain Alexander Osbourne (d. circa 1845), was the right-hand man of the Grenadiers of the first Regiment of Royal Edinburgh Volunteers and a Commissioner of the Board of Customs. He lived in Richmond Street for many years, before moving to York Place. He was a familiar sight in the streets of Edinburgh, owing to his great stature. It is recorded that one of his legs was nearly as large as the circumference of the average man's body. During the visit of George III in August 1822, Osbourne was presented to the King who, struck by this vast figure of a man enquired, 'Are all the Edinburgh Volunteer's like you?', to which he replied, 'They are so, please Your Majesty', understanding the question to have been about their social standing, 'Astonishing' said the King, lifting up his hands in wonder (J. Grant, Old and New Edinburgh, London, 1880, p. 188).
A similar ebonised sideboard with Ionic columns was sold anonymously, Sotheby's New York, 19 November 1988, lot 156.