A pair of early 20th century stinkwood tables

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A pair of early 20th century stinkwood tables

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A pair of stinkwood tables from South Africa. The form of the tables is inspired by 18th century prototypes with cabriole legs and ball and claw feet. The friezes beneath the table tops are undulating and deeply carved which is especially typical of antique furniture from the Cape. The Thesen round label is attached underneath. South African, circa 1920.

The Thesen family originated from Norway. In July 1869, Arndt Leonard Thesen, a prominent timber merchant from Stavangar in Norway left his hometown with his wife and nine children, planning to start a new life in New Zealand. After their ship, the Albatross, ran into difficulties near Cape Town, Arndt Thesen decided to stay on in South Africa. The Thesens settled in the picturesque town of Knysna where they started a timber trading company. In 1904 his son Charles Wilhelm Thesen bought Paarden Island in the Knysna River estuary. In 1922 he established a timber processing plant on the island, which became known as Thesen Island. Thesen & Company had a widely known stinkwood furniture manufacturing department.

Stinkwood (Ocotea bullata) occurs naturally in most of the high forests of South Africa, from the kloofs of Table Mountain to the mountain forests of Limpopo and it is at its best in the Knysna forests. It is one of the most highly prized furniture woods and the bark is collected for medicinal purposes.

Provenance:
From a private collection in the United Kingdom.

  • Height: 30 in; 76.5 cm
  • Width: 33 1/2 in; 85.5 cm
  • Depth: 24 in; 61 cm
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