Regency Calamander and Rosewood Sofa Table, c. 1810-20

Regency calamander and rosewood sofa table, the rectangular top with two drop leaves having canted corners and satinwood banding over two concealed frieze drawers with geometric inlay. The well turned supports rest on a rosewood plinth raised on four sabre legs, each with satinwood banding and boxwood stringing; all on brass paw casters.

59" long, open
37" long, closed
24" deep
28.5" high

England c. 1810-20

PRICE: $7,500  

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Condition: Lovely color and patina with only minor repairs.

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Highly colored and contrasting woods were fashionable in English furniture from around 1800 and calamander, also called Coromandel, characterized by dark and light stripes, was among the favorites. An expensive wood, it was shipped from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and the Coromandel coast in southwest India in small logs of about 3 feet long and 3 to 6 inches in diameter. [1] (By comparison, mahogany logs could reach over 50 feet long and 6 feet in diameter.[2])

This elegant table displays many admirable features, not only in the material and labor involved in its construction, but in its design as well. Consider the top: the center light area is built up from three sheets of veneer, the center sheet cut on the bias. The dark areas on either side comprise 10 sheets, while the two drop leaves comprise another 8, for a total of 21 individual sheets of veneer! Then the satinwood crossbanding was added, followed by another band of calamander, and finally the delicate boxwood stringing finishes the edge.

Next, we move to the frieze. The front, with two drawers of superbly dovetailed mahogany, exhibits subtle book-matched veneers, while the back, without drawers, is veneered in a single long sheet. The rectangular stringing, which ends in an unusual 'arrow and ball' motif, emphasizes the table's horizontality.

The rosewood plinth supports the well-turned balusters and the elegant sabre legs. The rectangular stringing references the frieze while the satinwood banding in the legs echoes the top. The knees display a similar 'arrow and ball' motif. (See photos nearby.) Finally, the disc near the top of the leg references the frieze and accentuates the outline of the knee. The stringing seems to uncoil from it, guiding the eye down the long, elegant leg to the brass paw caster.

[1] See Adam Bowett, "Woods in British Furniture-Making 1400-1900 An Illustrated Historical Dictionary" (Wetherby: Oblong, 2012), 48-50.

[2] Ibid, 119.

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