A fine & very rare George IV Gonçalo Alves tilt-top breakfast table, or 'loo table' in the manner of Gillows of Lancaster & London, c1825-30
The superbly figured and dramatically striped Gonçalo Alves (Zebrawood) circular tilt-top with moulded edge, above a lotus carved column and circular radially veneered Gonçalo Alves platform base with boldly carved hairy lions paw feet on original brass castors.
Measuring 77.5 cm in height, 129.5 cm in diameter (30 1/2 inches x 51 inches)
A rare George IV Gonçalo Alves tilt-top breakfast table, or 'loo table', c1830
Goncalo Alves is a striking, exotic hardwood, which is sometimes referred to as Zebrawood or Tigerwood and identified as 'Albura wood' in the Gillows of London & Lancaster wood speciman charts. The trees grow in neotropical forests, in particular Brazil, which is a major exporter of this wood.
Gillows of London was the main importer of Gonçalo Alves (Zebrawood) during this period, and the wood was almost exclusively used by Gillows in the early 19th century, having largely gone out of fashion by the mid 19th century. Albura wood was the second most luxurious wood provided by Gillows - listed at 40% more expensive than mahogany, and second only to finely figured rosewoods.
This style of very large tilt-top circular table was known as a "loo table" after the popular 17th century card game Lanterloo. By the turn of the 18th century, it was England's most popular card game and a favourite pastime of the aristocracy. Early 18th-19th century loo tables are identified by their circular top usually measuring approximately 50 inches to accomodate 5-7 players, and with a hinged-and-snap-lock mechanism fitted to a pedestal base, so that the table to easily be stored against a drawing room wall when not in play.
Gonçales alves is characterised by its deeply striped grain pattern and strong lustre. It was very expensive and was used almost exclusively by Gillows of Lancaster and London at the beginning of the 19th century. Unusually for a table of any period, this table is constructed using very high quality mahogany for the construction, not only of the underside of the top but also for the structure of the block and H frames too. The carving on the pedestal is restrained, minimal and crisp with a luxe that will never go out of style.