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Michael Pashby Antiques

A Fine Brass Inlaid Reading Table Made By Gillows for the 2nd Baron Bolton at Hackwood Park in 1813

27 ins wide, 17.5 ins deep, minimum 29 ins high, maximum 29.5 ins high


Tables of this sort with ratcheted tops were known as reading tables as they allowed their owners to adjust the height to suit books of varying sizes and allow references to be checked easily and conveniently. However it is very rare to encounter reading tables which employ the same degree of sophistication as seen on the present example. The use of fashionable rosewood and the beautifully executed and typical Gillows feet might be expected, but it is the brass inlay or Boulle work which is so unusual and would have raised the price of the order considerably.

In her seminal work on Gillows, Dr Susan Stuart wrote extensively about the library table which also formed part of this commission. The May 1813 memorandum included this very large table, a smaller drum table, the two reading tables and a set of chairs, all with Boulle inlay. Dr Stuart suggests that the brass work would have been supplied by an outside contractor of some sort and not made in house and, given that the suite was made by the Oxford Street (London) branch of Gillows, not the more commonly encountered Lancaster branch, she posits the theory that the Boulle work could have been completed by some of the major workshops based in London in this period known to have specialised in this sort of work such as that of George Bullock, Thomas Parker and Louis-Constantin Le Gaigneur (Stuart Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840 Vol I p.290). As Dr Stuart admits, there is no evidence to prove this whatsoever but it is a tantalising possibility. It seems unlikely that the work has any relationship to Bullock-the designs are very different from his known style-but Parker and Le Gaigneur certainly supplied pieces with inlaid brass of similar feeling such as Parker's centre table supplied for Carlton House and now in the Green Drawing Room in Windsor Castle.