It was in March 1835 that Robert Jupe, an upholsterer based in Cavendish Square, London, applied to patent an ‘improved expanding table’.
According to the filing, it was ‘so constructed that the sections composing its surface may be caused to diverge from a common centre and that the spaces caused thereby may be filled up by inserting leaves or filling pieces’.
For just a few years from 1835- 40 Jupe was in partnership with John Johnstone of New Bond Street to make the tables before the arrangement was dissolved, and each man set up on his own.
The mahogany table that topped the Five Centuries sale at Lyon & Turnbull (26% buyer’s premium) in Edinburgh on November 16 can be firmly dated to the late 1830s. It has an ivory label inscribed Jupe’s Patent Johnstone, Jupe & Co.
By family repute, it was formerly part of the furnishings of two 16th century tower houses: Aldbar Castle, Brechin and Careston Castle, Angus.
Jupe tables appeal now as they did in the William IV and early Victorian age: the addition of two sets of leaves in Union Jack formation allow for a circular table of three different sizes from 5ft to 7ft 4in (1.55m to 2.25m) that is perfect for good dinner party conversation.
While the genius was in the wind-out mechanism, the pedestals and bases could be tailored to the wishes and budget of the buyer. This example was something of a deluxe model with a leaf-carved quadripartite base and reeded serpentine legs terminating in lion paw feet with brass castors.
It was guided at £100,000- 150,000 and sold in the middle of expectations at £120,000.
A handful of examples of this particular base type have appeared for sale in the last two decades.
The example at Christie’s in 2011 with a provenance to the Britishborn socialite Pamela Harriman (one-time Mrs Randolph Churchill) sold at £90,000, while another took £100,000 at Bonhams in 2014. Most recently, in January 2020, Woolley & Wallis sold a slightly later table with a platform base and lion’s paw feet marked for the Johnson & Jeanes partnership (formed in 1842) for £80,000 (ATG No 2425).
Among the best-performing lots in the Edinburgh sale, this time from a vendor south of the border, was a rare 16th century Spanish armorial tapestry. It came by descent from Conservative Party MP Sir Geoffrey Peto (1878-1956) and had previously hung at Sandford Park, Oxfordshire. Estimated at £5000-7000, it sold at £42,000.
The coat of arms providing the decoration across the 7ft 4in x 6ft (2.24 x 1.85m) weaving is that of Don Diego Fernandez de Cordova (1524-1601. He was the recipient of a number of grand titles (married to an infante he was made the 3rd Marquis of Comares.) but was better known simply as El Africano.
Born in Oran, on the northwest coast of present-day Algeria, he was governor there from 1589-94. The armorial helps date the tapestry. It includes reference to the order of the Knight of the Golden Fleece, to which the marquis was elected by Philip II in 1577. He wore the collar of the order from 1585.