An antique ebony chess table


c. 1845




Height 29.50 inch. Width 45.00 inch. Depth 26.00 inch.

Please note that shipping costs are supplied upon purchase.


The superb ebony table itself has a shaped rectangular top inset with an intricate
penwork chess board within a silver frame and flanked by two inlaid acorn and oak leaf panels. The frieze is carved with a bold gadrooned edge above a single small disguised
drawer on either side. The turned end supports are also deeply carved with flower heads and acanthus leaves.
The origin of the intriguing decoration on this table is explained by several letters and scraps of paper bearing ink sketches for the designs; both roundels and lozenges. All the correspondence appears to have been to Luke Trapp Flood of Bellevue Lodge, Chelsea and Mrs Flood, Denfield, Dorking with an envelope post marked 1844. One letter is from George Jepson, dated January 24th 1843, applying for the post of Chaplain at the ‘New Prison of Clerkenwell’. In addition there are rules for Chess, Back gammon and ‘Crazy croquet’ handwritten by Luke Thomas Flood.

Provenance: Luke Trapp Flood (b1809-) was the eldest son of Luke Thomas Flood (1775-1860), after whom Flood Street was named. Like his father, Luke was a magistrate, a generous patron of the arts and a benefactor of many causes; he attended meetings of the Mill Hill Providence Institution, the National School Committee, and was elected a Governor of the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Barnet. In 1841 he married Elizabeth (Bessie)
Todd and they had six children, dividing their time between Bellevue Lodge, Chelsea, Dachet and Belmont, Mill Hill (presumably the large house built by James Paine in
the 1760’s which is presently Mill Hill Preparatory School.) These hand-written diaries, which are included with the table, cover the period August 1853- December 1864
in seven volumes, 8vo, on 800 pages, of closely written script. They are very fully written-up with details of visits, the hiring and dismissal of servants, purchases, train journeys, family and business matters, visits to exhibitions and two tours of Scotland in 1859 and 1864. Prices are noted for anything from pocket money for his sons at Harrow to the £15.15.0 for a gold watch from Harrods. There is an entry recording a visit to Brighton to a Mr Pepper about the commission of a monument, which is no doubt the statue of Luke Thomas Flood for St Luke’s Church, Chelsea.

Literature: In her book Penwork, A Decorative Phenomenon, Wetherby, 2008, pp 70-75, Noël Riley illustrates seven chess boards but they are all mounted on single pedestal tables and the decorative elements seem to be mainly classical or floral rather than geometric examples similar to these. However Figure 118, p92, shows a design on paper, currently in the Victoria and Albert Museum, “probably intended to be glued to a panel and protected with varnish for a table top”.

Signed/Inscribed: Stamped Gillow.

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