A rare and impressive early 19th century circular extending mahogany dining table by Johnstone, Jupe & Co., the complex swivel action top rotating to accommodate eight original segment leaves of two varying larger sizes, supported on a baluster stem on a quarto plinth base on raised scroll feet. Together with its two sets of original leaves.
This fascinating table illustrates all the very best elements of English cabinet-making combined with the remarkable burst of inventiveness of the Industrial Revolution. Until John Johnstone and Robert Jupe patented their ingenious design in March 1835, round dining tables suffered from the problem of not offering the flexibility of seating that the conventional long rectangular tables, could with their series of removable leaves. Tables with semi-circular leaves attached had been made in the first quarter of the 19th century, but the inherent problems of their stability resting on a single pedestal, as well as the expense of the large planks required for the curved leaves, prevented the design from gaining popularity.
Johnstone and Jupe’s revolutionary patent (no. 6788) of 1835 recorded ‘An improved expanding round table so constructed that the sections composing its surface may be caused to diverge from a common centre and that the spaces caused thereby may be filled up by inserting leaves or filling pieces’ The table top could be expanded ‘by hand or by turning the surfaces and bed of the table round the pillar’. It was this inspired design centred round a capstan action with radiating semi-circular iron arms that allowed the table to be expanded whilst maintaining its stability. The firm, based at 67 New Bond Street and trading under the name of Johnstone, Jupe & Co., quickly realised they had created an extraordinary piece of furniture and gained a reputation for fiercely defending their patent thus accounting for the paucity of any rivals. As with this example, they were stamped with the firm's name, and each table was carefully allocated a serial number often just found by the capstan itself.
By 1840 the partnership had dissolved becoming Johnstone & Jeanes in 1842 while Jupe, notoriously difficult and litigious, had moved to nearby Welbeck Street.
Few of these tables were made owing to their expense and the short period of Jupe and Johnstone’s partnership, however, one of identical design and bearing a signed ivory lable may be seen in the magnificent State Dining Room at Holkham Hall, Norfolk, the seat of the Earl of Leicester. C.f. ‘Holkham’, London, 2005, pp.78,79, plates XII and XIV.
Literature: Frances. Collard, Regency Furniture, 2nd edition, London, 1985, illus. p.24.
Private collection, London from whom acquired.
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