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Dealer wagers £13,000 on a ‘sleeper’ card table

24 August 2004Written by ATG Reporter

AN auction first for specialist Gordon Patrick, the vastly experienced specialist at Clarke Gammon Wellers (15% buyer's premium), was the sleeper and undisputed highlight of the Surrey sale on July 27 – a 2ft (61cm) wide kingwood, rosewood and satinwood inlaid envelope card table entered with a £200-300 estimate.

Inlaid to its top and sides with urns and rosettes, it was catalogued by Mr Patrick as Continental, probably French, and left undated, although Mr Patrick thought it was most probably Victorian.

The trade thought otherwise, believing it to be English, dating to c.1770, and made in the French style, possibly by a skilled French cabinetmaker working in London.

"It was an oddity," said Mr Patrick. "I had never seen anything like it in 40 years."

Although the envelope card top was fixed, it would originally have rotated and would also have had a lever mechanism to unfold the flaps.

The legs would also once have been capped with gilt metal feet, the holes for which were still visible.

However, opinion was split as to whether the table had been reduced in size. Any taller would have made it difficult to sit at comfortably to play games, although it was not uncommon in the 18th century for players to stand rather than sit.

Consigned by a lady, whose Leeds-based family had owned it for some time, it attracted interest from two Irish dealers on the telephone who took bidding to the £3000 mark after which a Sussex dealer outbid another dealer standing at the back of the room for ownership at £13,000.

While the table overshadowed everything else in price terms, the fact that for the most part the sale comprised privately consigned goods with reasonable estimates meant there were few casualties.

A white-painted, Victorian, wrought-iron tree seat removed from a large Berkshire property sold to a wealthy scrap metal merchant (who remembered scrapping many similar seats in the past) at £1600 and an "Egyptian Revival" Thebes-style oak stool with a Liberty & Co label proved a sought-after decorative entry at £900.

Also of note, but requiring several thousand pounds worth of restoration to transform them into a five-figure proposition, was a pair of Hepplewhite-style mahogany open armchairs. The £800 a dealer bid for them will only be the start of his expenses before they can go into his shop.

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Written by

ATG Reporter

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