Old Dining Table - Antique or just a family treasure

Bill Mabey
November 5, 2019

Hi, can I start by saying I know next to nothing about antiques but I thought someone might be interested in this story and be able to shed some light.

I am in possession of a timber dining table that has been in our family for many years. The family story is that it was made by my great uncle Archie. Our family moved from the UK to Australia in the early 1900's. Two brothers Ernest and Archie took up a farm in South West WA. Ernest’s son Horace (my father) took over the farm in 1942 and our family grew up with the dining table as a focal point for our family life. The farm is long gone and the siblings who are now spread across all points of Australia each have sentimental pieces of those days in their position.

We have never considered the table to be of any significant dollar value but there was a sentimental value to our family.

The table came into my possession a couple of years ago and it was in need of repair or disposing of so it has sat in my shed (partly dismantled) for at least 2 years until I got the time to do something about it. I considered disposing of it but the sentimental value stopped me from doing this.

Great Uncle Archie died many years before I was born however as a boy I remember seeing many of his old style carpentry tools in the farm shed. So the "Archie built it" story always seemed plausible as he was apparently a carpenter, the only question was whether he built it in Australia or did he build it in the UK and bring it with him when the family migrated? It’s a heavy table that takes two strong people to move so the latter has always seemed less likely.

Well this week I got around to doing something about it and thought I would have a crack at cleaning it up repairing the broken joints etc sanding it back and re-varnishing it.

First Surprise - I was always of the understanding that it was built from a dark timber - remember I grew up in Jarrah country so heavy things built out of dark timber were the norm not the exception. However the sander soon revealed a fine grained white timber underneath. Perhaps it was just 100 odd years of grime build-up.

Second surprise – We have never been aware of any identifying marks on this table, yet on dismantling it I found the numbers 1888 stamped into the thin edge of one of the underneath supports. Could this be the year of manufacture? If so it means it is up to 40 years older than we previously thought and lends weight to the theory that it was manufactured in the UK and transported here when the family migrated.

We always said that the old dining table would have seen allot across four generations of our family and would have many stories to tell and yet it seems it may also have a few secrets.

I have added some photos of the sanded and un-sanded timber pieces and of the “1888”. If anyone on here can make comment on what the 1888 might mean or have some thoughts as to what type of timber it might be I would love to hear from you. All other theories gratefully received

Family Dining Table · More Info

Family Dining Table · More Info

Family Dining Table · More Info

Family Dining Table · More Info

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