I recently remembered a moment in my childhood when I visited my Grandparents’ house one Boxing Day and enjoyed sitting at their dining table that was like no other I’d seen before. At this time of year it folded out using a series of techniques: place settings appeared to slide out from either end of the table and the centre of it parted to reveal another piece of table at the flick of a latch. The once average-sized dining table that easily seated four now became a much larger piece of furniture that accomodated eight to ten people.
At that time in my life I never knew what to call the table other than Optimus Prime or Megatron, purely because of its ability to transform like my childhood cartoons did. Now I’m much older, and slightly wiser, I can confidently say that this dining table is commonly known as an extending dining table. They are used for times like I’d described when you’d have more visitors eating at the dining table than usual. Unfortunately the matching chairs don’t fold away in the same manner so you need a hiding place for those parts of your own.
History of the Table
I liked the idea of this dining table and knowing that my Nan recently replaced that impressive piece of furniture for something smaller and more modern I rang her up to ask where it had gone. I was sad to find out that she had it taken to the skip and broken down. I was even more upset to discover small parts of its history because I personally wanted it in my own home.
According to Nan this extending dining table was a very famous make that she and my Grandfather inherited in around the 1940s, made from Oak and complete with 4 matching dining chairs. She couldn’t recall the exact name of it, which I’m now somewhat determined to find. What she could remember though was that the table was regularly maintained by French polishers based in Essex. Judging by the cost involved with getting a dining table French polished I guessed that this table was worth a few bob to warrant such a costly maintenance cost.
I distinctly remembered the wood’s dark brown colour and how we’d set this table year after year, like a wooden, mechanical ballet. It was creaking in its old age even when I was a child but I’ll never forget the memories that were spent around it.
Finding the Table
I’d like to find one exactly like it one day and it would be great if someone was able to give me a few names of antique extending dining tables that were popular in the early 20th century so I could run them past my Nan to see if they jog her memory. The closest I’ve come is on my search through Frances Hunt’s collection of extending dining tables, the images of which are above.
If you think you might know what the brand name of table is from the era I’ve described, feel free to drop me a comment below. Any help would be greatly appreciated.