Giltwood tables

A pair of giltwood tables with brecce pernice marble tops c.1770 sold for £220,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

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They came to auction in Edinburgh on March 27 from Penicuik House in Midlothian where they had likely been since the 18th century.

The tables, with their somewhat menacing dolphins or sea serpents carved to the frieze, do not appear in the Penicuik papers or invoices, but they were recorded among the pieces saved from a fire at the house in 1899. It is believed that the impressively thick 4ft 11in x 2ft 9in (1.57m x 82cm) brecce pernice marble slabs may have been part of a shipment of marble sent to Penicuik from Rome in the late 1760s. The transaction was arranged by John Baxter the Younger, the son of Penicuik’s chief architect John Baxter. 

Giltwood table detail

A detail of sea serpents on the Italian giltwood tables at Lyon & Turnbull.

Following interest from all over the US, Europe and the UK, and a long bidding battle between the internet and the phones, they sold to an international buyer some distance above the £40,000-60,000 estimate. With 25% buyer’s premium the price was £275,200.

Giltwood table detail

A detail of one of a pair of giltwood tables at Lyon & Turnbull.

Penicuik Estate, situated to the south-west of Edinburgh at the foot of the Pentlands, has been owned by descendants of the merchant John Clerk (1611-74) since the middle of the 17th century.

Sir James Clerk, 3rd Baronet of Penicuik (1709-1783) built a neo-Palladium house there in the 1760s, appointing John Baxter as the architect and James Blaikie as his master carpenter. Although catalogued as Italian, there is a possibility Blaikie may have made these tables. 

In June 1899 a fire gutted the building although most of the original furniture and works of art were saved.

After the 18th century house was demolished, the adjacent Georgian stable block was converted into the family home.  As the property is now being used for leisure and hospitality, the Clerk family offered 69 lots of furniture and works of art at the Lyon & Turnbull sale titled Home & Heritage: Property from Three Historic Houses.