An Important George III Mahogany Rent Table Attributed to Thomas Chippendale
Diameter: 59” 150 cm
Provenance: Private Collection
The octagonal top, which revolves on its base, has a central hinged fustic wood quarter-veneered reading ledge which opens to reveal a well. To the frieze are eight drawers each inlaid with letters. The base which is also octagonal and has two cupboard doors, sits on recessed wooden casters.
The table is an outstanding example which displays a number of characteristics seen in the work of Thomas Chippendale. These include the
pattern of quarter-veneering on the reading ledge, the diagonal veneers on the borders of the paneled base and the cut corners of the base panels. Furthermore, the use of fustic wood and the quality of both the materials and the construction are certainly consistent with Chippendale’s work. A nearly identical example with different handles but a similar use of contrasting timbers and placement of letters on the drawers was previously part of the celebrated collection of Charles de Beistegui at Château de Groussay and depicted in the interior watercolors by Alexandre Serebriakoff between 1942-44.
Another example, which has also been attributed to Chippendale, was amongst the furnishing of Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire in the early 1770s.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, wealth in the Eighteenth century was largely derived from land ownership. Grand estates were formed; for
example it is said that the Spencer family could travel from Althorp, their house in Northamptonshire, all the way to their house in London without stepping off their land, a distance of 65 miles. The farms and buildings on
these estates were let out to tenants and the ‘Rent table’ was developed for managing the collection of payments. The ‘estate agent’ would sit at the table, take the tenant’s payment and put it in the central well whilst noting the amount in the tenant’s rent book which would be kept in the drawer bearing his initial, hence the requirement that the top should revolve. The estate account books would be kept in the pedestal below. By nature of the fact that there were a limited number of these estates, these tables are quite rare. They are also invariably very well made, possibly because they represented the wealth of the estate. Somewhat interestingly, this example lacks the letters J and Z, whilst another example at Holker Hall in Cumbria lacks the J and V.