11447

AN INTERESTING OAK RECTANGULAR CENTER TABLE WITH PARQUETRY TOP, CONSTRUCTED OF TIMBERS FROM SHIPS

English. Mid-Nineteenth Century.

Measurements

Width: 43” (109.2 cm);
Height: 30 1/4” (76.8 cm);
Depth: 22 3/4” (57.7 cm).

Research
Of natural and blackened oak. The rectangular top with inlaid double lozenges centered by an octagonal engraved brass plaque. The outer border with sawtooth inlaid design framed within chevron laid veneer. Enclosed by a shaped molding. The shaped standard ends rests upon plain rectangular blocks which are raised on bun feet enclosing original casters (one repaired). The ends united by a turned bulbous stretcher. Evidence of a screw fixing for brass plate.

Marks:
Engraved brass plaque reads:
The dark part of this table is made from/ Oak of/ H.M.S. Royal George/ Sunk at Spithead 29 July 1782/ The light is part of/ H.M.S Boyne/ Burnt at Spithead 1 May 1795/ The stem is part of H.M.S. Temeraire celebrated at/ Trafalgar/ The blocks & feet are made from oak of the/ City of Londonderry & The William Fawcet/ Steam ships belonging to the/ City of Dublin/ Steam Navigation Company

This interesting center table employs for its construction specimens of oak taken from various 18th and 19th century British sea vessels. An octagonal brass plaque at the center of the top reads:

The dark part of this table is made from/ Oak of/ H.M.S. Royal George/ Sunk at Spithead 29 Aug 1782/ The light is part of/ H.M.S Boyne/ Burnt at Spithead 1 May 1795/ The stem is part of H.M.S. Temeraire celebrated at/ Trafalgar/ The blocks & feet are made from oak of the/ City of Londonderry & The William Fawcet/ Steam ships belonging to the/ City of Dublin/ Steam Navigation Company

Immense quantities of timber were required for the building of a ship, and not all woods were suitable. Oak dominated as the preferred shipbuilding material for its weight and durability, resistance to decay, and strength in tension; it was especially ideal for ‘compass timber,’ where the wood is cut on a curve rather than straight, as the branches of an oak grow more or less horizontally from the trunk.1 “There was no finer material in Britain for the construction of ships’ hulls than English oak, and there was no finer oak in the entire country…than that found in the south-east.”2

The first ship mentioned, the H.M.S. Royal George was the largest warship in the world at the time of its launching in 1756. She took part in the Seven Years War and served as the flagship for two of the Royal Navy’s most notable admirals, Anson and Hawke. She also provided service during the American War of Independence and Siege of Gibralter circa 1780. Afterward, the ship returned to Britain for refitting. The tragic sinking of the ship took place on the 19th of August 1782 while she was anchored at Spithead to take on supplies and receive repairs. The ship was heeled over at an angle to accommodate maintenance work on the wash pump; the port side guns were run out and the starboard guns were drawn in to initiate the heeling. This, combined with the weight of the supplies brought on board, tilted the ship to such a degree that it began to take on water and could not be righted. Furthermore, about 400 additional people were on the ship, adding to its weight; to prevent desertion, shore leave was canceled and instead, crew members’ families were permitted to visit on board, causing the shipwreck to claim around 900 lives. A painting by John Christian Schetky (1778-1874) depicting the Loss of the ‘Royal George’ is in the collection of the Tate Museum, London (figure 1).

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.