Now sometimes deemed surplus to requirements, they occasionally come for sale.
A George III mahogany serving table was part of a small group of objects consigned by Winchester Cathedral for sale at Bellmans (25% buyer’ premium) in Wisborough Green, West Sussex, on January 18-20.
The general model with its stop-fluted frieze, tablets hung with drapery swags and reeded tapered legs with block feet is one used by a number of top London cabinetmakers in the period c.1770-80. However, this is probably a provincial piece. The cluster of three legs to the corner, each united by a small timber stretcher, is particularly quirky.
Very much in its favour was near-untouched condition and a good colour, a result of many years of use as a side table in the cathedral. Dealers would have formed a disorderly queue at the £600-800 estimate but instead the phone bidding kept going to £36,000.
Several English period furniture lots did well in this sale including a 4ft 5in (1.32m) George III gilt framed oval mirror in the rococo taste, c.1760. Carved with a typical display of scrolls and foliage with a floral basket crest, it was made with two ‘feet’ to sit above a chimneypiece. In good period condition, it carried an estimate of £1000-1500, but the hammer came down at £17,000.