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The parrot coal table in the manner of Thomas Williamson of Wemyss – £7500 at Mallams of Cheltenham.

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Cannel or parrot coal - a form of anthracite so-called because of the crackling and chattering sound it makes in burning - was mined largely for industrial use in the Wemyss area of Fife.

Most of the small corpus of coal furniture is attributed to Thomas Williamson (1817-60), a stonemason from West Wemyss whose commissions included a table and two chairs inscribed Wemyss Parrot Coal made for Wemyss Castle in 1855 (now in the Kirkcaldy Museum & Art Gallery) and furniture for the Fife Coal Company offices in Leven.

At the Great Exhibition in 1851 he exhibited a parrot coal garden seat which now sits in the grounds of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

Mallams' centre table, which belonged to a woman in Gloucester who had not realised it was made from coal, was constructed in three sections with a top measuring 3ft 4in (1.02m) across.

Estimated at £400-600 at the sale on February 17, there was bidding in the room up to £3000 before two telephone bids took the price up to £7500 (plus 20 per cent buyer's premium). The winner was a London dealer.

Rarely do these large-scale pieces, so emblematic of the Industrial Revolution North of the Border, appear for sale, but Christie's New York sold a work table with a foliate carved pedestal in 2008 for $6500, while a table closer to this Cheltenham example was sold by Phillips in Edinburgh back in 1996 for £19,000.