Picture This CVII

Harlequin tables initially enjoyed popularity from the second quarter of the eighteenth-century. Several examples are known to have been made by John Channon and Thomas Potter – both esteemed London cabinetmakers.

The tables’ tri-fold tops (fig. 1) successively open to reveal a tea table and games table. The (normally) leather-lined games tables also double as writing tables and to that end, a leaf-spring assisted (or occasionally weight-driven) writing compartment can be released to rise out of the tables’ typically deep carcases (figs. 2 & 3).

Fig. 1. George II mahogany harlequin table, circa 1735.

Fig. 2. George II japanned harlequin table, circa 1730.

Fig. 3. George II mahogany harlequin table, circa 1730. (Solomon Bly)

Harlequin tables are not uncommon, however, the harlequin chest below may well be unique.

Fig. 4. George II mahogany harlequin chest, circa 1750. (Christopher Buck Antiques)

Fig. 5. In tea table mode… (Christopher Buck Antiques)

Fig. 6. … in games table mode… (Christopher Buck Antiques)

Fig. 7. … and in writing table mode. (Christopher Buck Antiques)

Jack Plane

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About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Antiques, Picture This and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Picture This CVII

  1. Eric R says:

    Absolutely spectacular.

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  2. diceloader says:

    Nice find indeed. Will you add one of these you your construction list?

    Like

    • Jack Plane says:

      Actually, I restored an identical one to that in figure 3 just over thirty years ago – even the type and colour of leather are the same. I subsequently made a copy of it. Who knows, I may make another, but I must finish my coffin first!

      JP

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  3. I don’t suppose there are online plans for something like this? The harlequin chest in particular?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      I would be highly doubtful.

      If you can surmount the spring mechanism (pairs of springs working against each other to achieve the height within the limited space), the rest wouldn’t be at all difficult.

      JP

      Liked by 1 person

    • Paul Murphy says:

      Dover Books sells reprints of Thomas Sheraton’s, “Drawing Book.” In this book you will find the most detailed plans I have ever seen. Bear in mind, books of that type were written with the assumption of a skilled workman as the intended audience. The details I’m referring to are those needed to understand the mechanism. With regard to the table or cabinet, you are largely on your own.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jack Plane says:

        Indeed. I purposely didn’t mention Sheraton’s harlequin Pembroke table (p. 341) as it verges on the work of someone demented. The mechanism is unfeasibly complicated and impractical to even consider reproducing.
        That and there are no constructive dimensions.

        JP

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        • Paul Murphy says:

          Well, I’ll grant you that. Haha! Funny.
          Sheraton demented? ;-)

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          • Jack Plane says:

            Adam Black (Memoirs of Adam Black) lodged with Sheraton in 1804 and wrote:
            “Sheraton lived in a poor street in London, his house half shop, half dwelling-house, and himself looked like a worn-out Methodist minister, with threadbare black coat. I took tea with them one afternoon. There was a cup and saucer for the host, and another for his wife, and a little porringer for their daughter. The wife’s cup and saucer were given to me, and she had to put up with another little porringer. My host seemed a good man, with some talent. He had been a cabinetmaker, and was now author, publisher, and teacher of drawing, and, I believe, occasional preacher.
            This many-sided worn-out encyclopaedist and preacher is an interesting character… He is a man of talent and, I believe, of genuine piety. He understands the cabinet business – I believe was bred to it. He is a scholar, writes well, and, in my opinion, draws masterly – is an author, bookseller, stationer and teacher… I believe his abilities and resources are his ruin in this respect – by attempting to do everything he does nothing.”

            In 1805 Sheraton published A Discourse on the Character of God as Love. He died on October 22nd, 1806; his obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine described him as “… a journeyman cabinet-maker, but since 1793 supported a wife and two children by authorship” and he had “left his family, it is feared, in distressed circumstances”.

            JP

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          • Paul Murphy says:

            I’ve read that too. My favorite character is John Cobb. He agrees with me. John Cobb’s favorite character is John Cobb.

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  4. bobbarnettpe says:

    Thanks for sharing your photos. Something just got added to my “To Build” list.

    Like

  5. Brian Lowery says:

    Always enjoy your posts, but this one may top them all! Love the attached video, too. I wish you would reconsider writing a book about your projects. I know you lost your rough copy, but you could take back images from your website and fill in with the gaps with your commentary.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. premodernbloke says:

    “You won’t find anything like that in IKEA.” Amen.
    Thank you for the bit from Mr. Black. So sad that financial success was so elusive but he apparently enjoyed his work.

    Like

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