Origin: English Period: Early Victorian Provenance: Unknown Date: c.1840-55 Height: 30.75 inches Diameter: 16 inches (the top)
The japanned papier-mâché work table profusely inlaid in mother-of-pearl and gilded with scrolls, the octagonal shaped work box fitted with a hinged lid enclosing a compartmentalised interior above a shaped apron and turned trumpet shaped column terminating in a platform base and four scroll feet
The table remains in fair to good overall condition considering its relative fragility. There are small sections of loss to the frieze and some damages to the base. Much of the inlay remains true, approximately 90% and she has a beautiful even craquelure to her laquered finish. Three of the feet are the original cast iron with one of the feet a later carved wooden replacement. Inside, the compartmentalised interior appears to be in original condition though with losses and it is slightly tatty but still at a presentable level.
Work, or sewing tables were used for embroidery and needlework and were introduced during the second half of the 18th century and became quite fashionable during the Victorian era. Papier-mâché itself became an industry in England in 1772 when Henry Clay of Birmingham took out a patent for its making and as a result produced the inexpensive plastic of its time, easily be molded into desired shapes. The process for making papier-mâché furniture was achieved either by pasting multiple layers of paper over shaped cores, or by pressing paper pulp between dies or molds to form a variety of shapes. Once dried, the resulting raw material could be carved and polished. Papier-mâché was intended to be japanned and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, glass, or stones.
“Among the many inventions of modern times for diffusing the luxuries, and even the conveniences of life, there are few which have greater claims to our admiration than papier-mâché. Whether it meets the eye in the shape of furniture, or in articles of domestic utility, its beauty and agreeableness are equally striking and effective. Nor is it less so when applied to ornamental purposes” - The World In Its Workshops, by James Ward, 1851.