The origins of the Lazy Susan are shrouded in mystery. Also known as revolving servers or dumbwaiters, these are usually moving trays that can be used to rotate food around a table.
According to an early 18th century article in The Gentleman’s Magazine, these and similar machines were preferable to garrulous servants. Another British commentator dubbed them “foreign” but discreet.
When spinning trays reached the US, possibly introduced by Thomas Jefferson from France – where they were known as étagères – they received several origin stories. One tale went that Jefferson designed one and named it after his daughter (Susan). Another held that they were devised by the utopian Oneida Community to enhance communal living.
Whatever the truth of the matter, these items can have decorative and even functional appeal. This example in oak, on offer at Wakelin & Linfield for £1250, is from the 19th century. It has eight sections with a pierced fretwork frieze and probably comes from Dolgelly in Wales, c.1840.