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In June 2015 Susan Buck carried out a microscopy analysis of the finish history on seven different areas of the tea table. Four of the primary mahogany from legs, stem and table top and three from the block and cleats.  The analysis shows a finish history consistent with an eighteenth century piece.  Susan concludes:
The comparative finish histories suggest that the tea table was originally coated with shellac, which now survives only in fragmentary form in the areas of the tea table sampled for analysis. 

This first shellac layer is too uneven and fragmentary to identify any characteristic aging evidence like regular cracks or a paler autofluorescence at the oxidized surface. The evidence also suggests that the secondary elements were first sealed with shellac and then coated with a red-pigmented stain to match the paler secondary wood with the deeper color of the mahogany.

The tea table was consistently recoated with two separate applications of pigmented plant resin varnish, followed by the most recent plant resin varnish. The pigmented coatings, and a film of grime and oil, contribute to the darkened quality of the interstices of the carving and the joinery.


Infra-red photography has revealed an original ink inscription underneath the stain and varnish on the underside of the tea table top. The large inscription identifies as ‘Cadwalader’.

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