Thomas Donaldson (d. 1857)
A zebrawood and coromandel-crossbanded lady's work and writing table, English, early 19th century. Probably by Thomas Donaldson (d. 1857) or Shrewsbury, and related to a design by Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806). The rectangular crossbanded hinged lid lined to its underside at both ends with a central rectangular panel and a lozenge-shaped end panel of pleated turquoise tabby weave silk. The interior is fitted with a central baize-lined hinged writing surface. This is flanked to either side by a drum-bottomed compartment. The compartment on the proper left is fitted with a pen tray and inkwell divisions. The table has coromandel crossbanding, ebony and boxwood-stringing throughout, and is veneered in zebrawood. It is raised on a pair of broadening rectangular-section end supports each on two tapering rectangular-section outswept legs fitted with brass caps and castors and joined by a stretcher. -- Recent research suggests that this table may be one described in a bill dated 1812 (Shrewsbury Archives, Ref:112/6/53/7), relating to purchases made by Thomas, 2nd Lord Berwick, from the Shrewsbury firm of Thomas Donaldson. The bill lists: A work table made of fine specimens of zebra & coromandel wood and burnished gold fitted up with fine green lustering.' Coromandel was used by Donaldson elsewhere at Attingham on, for instance, the pair of console tables in the Picture Gallery at Attingham - definitely supplied by his firm - are veneered in coromandel. In addition, the fabric which has been retained to the underside of the lid may well be the 'lustering' mentioned in Donaldson's bill. Silk with a lustrous or shiny appearance was called 'lustring' from the mid-17th century.
Believed to be 3rd Lord Berwick collection: William Noel-Hill, 3rd Baron Berwick (1773-1842). By descent bequeathed to the National Trust with the estate, house and partial contents of Attingham by Thomas Henry Noel-Hill, 8th Baron Berwick (1877 - 1947) and transferred to the National Trust by the Treasury in 1976.
Marks and inscriptions
Underside: Berwick (paper label with blue border, written in black ink)
Makers and roles
Thomas Donaldson (d. 1857), carver and gilder after Thomas Sheraton (Stockton-on-Tees 1751 – 1806), designer
Sheraton, Thomas, 1751-1806 cabinet-maker and upholsterer's drawing-book. In four parts. 1802.