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Heroic Measures: The Saving and Conservation of the original colonial Drayton Pier Table c. 1730 to 1740

Collections, Preservation, Sarah Stroud Clarke

Drayton Hall Collections Charleston SC

The Drayton Pier Table pre-conservation. Images courtesy and copyright National trust for Historic Preservation.

Opening the Gates Gallery at Drayton Hall provided the opportunity to conserve many objects in the Drayton Hall Museum Collection that were in need of repair. The most extensive project undertaken in the lead up to the gallery opening was of the c.1730-1740 Pier Table.

Drayton Hall Collections c 1730

The Drayton Pier Table pre-conservation. Images courtesy and copyright National trust for Historic Preservation.

Drayton Hall COllections, Charleston SC

The Drayton Pier Table pre-conservation. Images courtesy and copyright National trust for Historic Preservation.

One of a matching pair of pier tables that pre-date the construction of Drayton Hall, it is one of the earliest furniture objects in the Drayton Hall collections. It is possible that the tables date to the time of John Drayton’s first marriage to Sarah Cattell in 1736. The table features cabriole legs and pad feet which are indicative of early 18th century taste. The center of the table apron contains a large carved shell cartouche surrounded by flower buds and leaves; prior to conservation only the shell and left flower bud remained.

Drayton Hall Collections Charleston ,SC

Ghost marks of the missing ornamentation along with a sketch of the table from c. 1845 by Lewis Reeve Gibbes confirmed the lost carving and guided furniture conservator Chris Swan in his work to replace these elements. The table is made of mahogany with mahogany veneer; the veneer had suffered greatly over the centuries and during conservation 34 losses were replaced and over half of the remaining veneer was reattached, returning the table apron to its original appearance.

Drayton Hall COllections Pier Table Charleston SC

Drayton Pier Table restored, Image courtesy and copyright Drayton Hall Preservation Trust.

Drayton Hall COllections 18th century furniture original to Drayton Hall Charleston SC

Drayton Pier Table restored, Image courtesy and copyright Drayton Hall Preservation Trust.

The table was missing five of the six scroll knee brackets, but Swan was able to replicate the missing scrolls from the one survivor. Drayton Hall is very lucky to have both of the original, intact purple and white Breche Violette marbles from Italy. The marble was gently cleaned and installed on the fully conserved table which now resides as a focal point of An Agreeable Prospect: The Creation of a Colonial South Carolina Palace and Garden in the Gates Gallery at Drayton Hall.

This conservation work was made possible by a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. P. Frederick Kahn.