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The expanding table design was patented by Robert Jupe in 1835 and the first tables of this type were produced in association with John Johnstone of New Bond Street. Like this example, they carry a brass boss to the central mechanism engraved Jupe’s Patent.

This version, bearing a similarly engraved disc to the side (shown right) was purchased by the vendor’s father, a civil engineer with the British Admiralty, in 1931 and went to Malta and Scotland before coming to Cape Town. Despite its travels it was, said the vendor, in mint condition with its extraordinary mechanism still in perfect working order.

At the auction, competition for the table came from phone and room bidders, with the hammer falling to a telephone buyer. The auctioneers claimed the price set a new auction high for a piece of furniture sold in South Africa, more than doubling the previous record of R400,000 paid in the same rooms two years ago for an 18th century Cape teak display cabinet on stand.