The table on offer from WR Harvey scratched with names below.

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Featured in ATG No 2383, the 19th century table showed beneath its easel top, a surface deeply scratched with names and dates from earlier years (pictured above).

One ATG subscriber, who had acquired two benches with similar wood and inscriptions in a clearance of items from Petworth House, got in touch with the dealership’s David Harvey with further information.

According to him, the owners of Petworth House have attended Eton for several generations and it was customary for old furniture to be given to its pupils.

“The maker of our reading table, which is entirely original to the late 19th century, clearly took advantage of unwanted, worn-out benches as useful wood,” Harvey says. “The reverse of the reading table’s top distinctly shows a number of etched surnames and a date, 1851. We are now researching Eton alumni to discover who were the miscreants.”

The table is available for £2750 at the exhibition A Volume of Libraries – An Open and Shut Case at the shop in Witney.