Picture This CXLIII

Reader, Laurin Davis, kindly directed me to an English Pembroke table, currently displayed in an on-line Antiques Dealers’ Association of America ‘show‘ (I believe it is to be auctioned) which closes at 10:00pm EST, April 27, 2020.

The table, attributed to the late eighteenth century English partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew, is indeed a fine-looking table with typical marquetry decoration in line with other works of theirs. (figures 1, 2 & 3).

Ince_&_Mayhew_marquetry_Pembroke_table_c1775_01aFig. 1. Marquetry Pembroke table, circa 1775. (Clive Devenish Antiques)

Ince_&_Mayhew_marquetry_Pembroke_table_c1775_01bFig. 2. (Clive Devenish Antiques)

Ince_&_Mayhew_marquetry_Pembroke_table_c1775_01cFig. 3. (Clive Devenish Antiques)

If indeed the table is by Ince and Mayhew, then I would have expected a much richer and elaborate provenance than simply “Devenish and Company”!

I did wonder if the table was not a good late Victorian or Edwardian copy, however, the underside does look right (figure 4).

Ince_&_Mayhew_marquetry_Pembroke_table_c1775_01dFig. 4. (Clive Devenish Antiques)

My favourite bit of the whole table? The overshot saw cuts on the dovetailed cross bearer.

Jack Plane

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, Auction Alerts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Picture This CXLIII

  1. JoeM says:

    Should the screw pockets be on the outside of the table sides/aprons?


  2. Originally back in 2008 it was in the Tom Devenish’s The Collection sale Sotheby’s New York Lot 126 page 235. Before it was sold through Christie’s NY on 24 Jan 2001 Lot 94.
    It’s a interesting piece which Sotheby’s dated 1785?


  3. potomacker says:

    I like the double bracket to support the dropleaf, but I was struck by only the tiniest hints of wear marks from the sliding action. Does this give you pause when assessing a piece well over 200 years? The pocket screws are an interesting detail about how the customer didn’t care much about what his guests didn’t see but they do strike me as requiring more work than necessary. Would it not have been just as sound to secure the top with screws bored through the opening afforded by the moving brackets with the drawers removed? Are there any more photos of the interior construction?


    • Jack Plane says:

      The techniques and features you observe do not concern me: This table would have been more of an ornament than a functional table seeing daily use, so the apparent lack of wear is not confronting.
      The screw pockets are period correct.
      I don’t have any further images of the construction of the table.



  4. voncarlos says:

    “My favourite bit of the whole table?” My exact sentiment when I see wooden antique furniture at shops or museums.


  5. The proof of age would be in the hardware. Examination of the screws, hinges and castors would be decisive. I personally do not think the design of the top is up to Ince and Mayhew’s standard. I have always appreciated their work as the best of England at that period.

    In addition, the view from the underside does remind me of Edwardian efforts to reproduce earlier pieces.

    Personally, I think the figure in the ground veneer fights the marquetry.


    • Jack Plane says:

      Your comments are appreciated and noted.

      If the table were a Victorian/Edwardian copy (which were innocent enough facsimiles without going down the whole faking route) then I would have expected to see broader japanned table leaf hinges, not these narrow rusty eighteenth-century looking examples. Also, I don’t think the screws are machine made.

      I do believe the table is eighteenth-century, but I too am not convinced this is the work of Ince and Mayhew. The lack of solid provenance is damning. Auction house sales records alone amount to nothing.



  6. Eric R says:

    Very interesting piece indeed.
    It’s looks to have held up well also.
    Thank you Laurin Davis.


  7. Mark St. John Dobbs says:

    Forgive me! – but the marquetry inlay whilst of good quality does not flow that well, the design appears a little contrived to me. The swags to the flaps in particular, I feel may have looked better had there been maybe four smaller designs per leaf and following the curve of the flap. Also the swags collide with the cross banding. I wonder if this is a Georgian table, ‘improved’ a hundred years or so later on, in Edwardian times and made more saleable with the addition of the inlay work? The pocket-screw fixings to the outside face of the side rails do tend to jar a bit? All told though, I wouldn’t kick it out the ‘ouse as they say around ‘ere!
    Always look forward to your posts and analysis Jack.


    • Jack Plane says:

      The technique employed in the decoration of this table is marquetry, not inlay and therefore would have been created at the outset.



      • W Patrick Edwards says:

        I would like to clarify some terms, if I could. Different countries have different terms for using decorative surfaces on furniture. I was trained in Paris by Dr. Pierre Ramond to use the terms that historically relate to different methods of work.

        “Tarsia certsonia” is a method of using a knife or chisel to carve out cavities in solid wood and fitting different materials into those cavities. This method was the only method used before the Germans invented the fret saw blade in the 16th century. There was a lot of solid mahogany 18th century furniture that received new inlay elements with this method around 1900. Dealers often call this “Dutch” marquetry, but that is just a selling trick.
        “Tarsia geometrica” relates to repetitive geometric elements which are normally made using a knife or veneer saw. The British refer to this as “parquetry” but the French would never use this term.
        “Tarsia a toppo” relates to what English speaking woodworkers would call decorative inlay banding.
        “Tarsia a incastro” is also called the Boulle process. Using a perpendicular fretsaw blade and cutting a packet of materials which include the elements of the design as well as the background, the marquetry is cut out in one step. The result is recognized by the gap which remains around each element due to the kerf of the fret saw blade. This method also includes Painting in Wood as well as the Bevel Cutting method. The latter was a variation developed by English workers to eliminate the saw kerf.
        “Classic Method” or “Piece by Piece” was invented in Paris by the French and generally remained a trade secret. It requires a picking machine to make exact copies of the drawing, and a tool called a “chevalet de marqueterie” to precisely saw half the line consistently. The interior elements are cut out independently of the background. With this method many exact copies of the marquetry are produced at the same time.
        Unfortunately, it is not known exactly when this last method was introduced, or how far the information spread at that time. If a close examination of the marquetry on this table could be done by an expert, it would prove the age of the piece.


  8. Richard D Cooper says:

    In the book -Is It Genuine- the author states that all 18th century Pembroke tables always had the legs taper on the inside faces only and any table that had the legs tapering on all four faces must be later or fake. Photos never really show the subtle difference so what is your opinion on this.


    • Jack Plane says:

      Any period tables I have come across with tapered legs – even nineteenth-century farmhouse tables – have all had the taper on their inside faces.
      All four faces tapered, looks plain weird (think some Hepplewhite chairs) and tapered outside faces make the table look like it has Rickets.



  9. Joe M says:

    Looking at the bottom view photo. The drawer sides seem to be very thick, or possibly added drawer slips. Extending beyond the runners width.
    Poorly over cut dovetail pocket on the closer side rail but it looks to be a through cut dovetail on the farther side rail. I little crude for Ince and Mayhew?


  10. Joe M says:

    The inlay on the drop leaves and the corner decorations on the top seem to be of different patina…the large center shell on the top looks like it has more fading. could the other decorations be added at a later date?


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