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George III beef wood (casuarina) and tulipwood banded Pembroke White-Hamond table from the First Fleet


George III beef wood (casuarina) and tulipwood banded Pembroke White-Hamond table from the First Fleet

Object information

Physical description

Rectangular wooden Pembroke-style table, with fold-down side leaves. The table features narrow inlaid tulipwood borders, including a wide inlaid border of contrasting timber in a geometric pattern on the table top. Each side leaf is held when open by a hinged wooden support. The table has four square tapering wooden legs, each terminating in a brass cup and castor. The table has two drawers, each with two round metal knob handles and a brass key-operated lock. The reverse side features two false drawer faces. Attached to the upper surface of the base of the lower drawer is a paper label with handwritten text "Sent from Botany Bay / by Dr [Brown] White / surgeon of the Navy in planks / + this Table made up / in London - / Beef Wood". Beneath the drawers is a sliding timber frame with carved hand grip.

Statement of significance

The First Fleet Table Collection comprises a small, late Georgian, neo-classical sofa table. It has a rectangular hinged top with tulipwood banding, Greek key decoration above two drawers and a slide, and is raised on slender tapering legs terminating in brass castors. The table is made from planks of native Australian 'beefwood' sent by Surgeon General John White, naval surgeon for the First Fleet, to his patron Sir Andrew Snape Hamond between 1788 and 1795.

This collection illustrates early British attempts to discover and foster possible industrial applications for the raw material resources of New South Wales, in particular the application of Australian native woods to English furniture manufacture. It also demonstrates the role of patronage in the careers of officers serving in early New South Wales, the novelty and prestige associated with items of Australian origin in Britain in the years following settlement, and the regimes of taste governing the British officer class during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

Object information

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