Picture This XCVI

This table is described by its vendor as a “walnut and mahogany eight-legged tilt-top table, circa 1780”. I’m not convinced the top is original… I’m not even certain when or if it began its life as a table.

Geo_III_six-legged_tilt-top_table_c1780_01b1Fig. 1. Unusual George III pillar and claw, circa 1780. (Jamb)

The elephant in the room is of course the claw (standard eighteenth-century nomenclature). On pillar and claw tables, three-legged claws are the norm; four-legged claws (fig. 2) are much less common, and six-legged claws (figs. 1 & 3) are rare .

Geo_II_mahogany_metamorphic_quadruped_reading_table_c1740_01aFig. 2. George II reading table with four-legged claw, circa 1740. (Christies)

Geo_III_six-legged_tilt-top_table_c1780_01cFig. 1. George III mahogany six-legged claw, circa 1780. (Jamb)

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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18 Responses to Picture This XCVI

  1. Ken says:

    Jack, you don’t feel that the top is original but you are at the disadvantage of only having a picture as reference. Do you feel that if you could inspect it personally that you would be able to say with certainty that is was original or not?


  2. potomacker says:

    2 legs, good; 4 legs, better. 6 legs, superfluous! There’s definitely a mystery to this piece. It’s hard to judge from the photo but it does appear that the feet exceed the perimeter of the tabletop.


  3. Les Elsie says:

    Just because you can make something doesn’t mean you should.


  4. davidlat says:

    Unless there’s something I cannot see, # 1 and # 3 seem to have 6 legs, not eight. Am I missing something?


    • Jack Plane says:

      No, you are quite correct. The vendor’s copy is incorrect, but accurately transcribed and I fell into the old cut-and-paste trap (now corrected) – despite being able to count to ten.



  5. How common are six-legged ones?


  6. snwoodwork says:

    Looks like a music stand for Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants.


  7. Jonathan Miller says:

    The claws resemble an octopus, flabby, compared with the ‘alert’ Christie’s example. Six claws and a competent column support nothing very much!

    However, the whole thing may be suffering from the English disease, not necessarily in the deepest provinces, where all the parts are flattened and dulled, seemingly hugging the floor. One sees the same impulse often enough in other pieces of C18th furniture.


    • Jack Plane says:

      Steady on there old chap! Early- and mid-Georgian English furniture is the zenith of eighteenth-century design. I think the disease to which you refer may be the exuberant and vulgar interpretations that widely affected the colonies.



  8. Alex A. says:

    Maybe it started life as a coat rack?


  9. Are there perhaps 7 legs on this table? There appears room for a leg on the back hidden by the pillar. The two legs furthest from the front seem too far apart, a seventh leg could fit between them.


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