A very fine early Regency period drum table c.1805 in a faded honey-coloured rosewood prompted an extraordinary bidding battle at Clevedon Salerooms near Bristol on June 1. Estimated at £4000-6000, it sold at a house record £200,000 (plus buyer’s premium) to a member of the London trade. The underbidder was also a London dealer.
The 3ft 6in (1.06m) diameter table was consigned by a lady moving to South Wales in her retirement and was once in the possession of the civil servant Sir Arthur Cecil McWatters (1880-1965) while resident at St Giles’ House (the Judge's Lodgings) in Oxford.
However, alongside exceptional quality and state of preservation, the key to its commercial success were its finely cast and chased mounts – including panels of satyr masks and musical instruments – prompting speculation that the maker was John McLean & Son. The idiosyncratic London firm advertised themselves as makers of ‘Elegant Parisien Furniture’ and such thoroughly English interpretations of French Directoire style using rosewood, gilt brass mounts and the sparing use of water gilding were a speciality.