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An early 19th century Anglo-Indian padouk games table, the rectangular top with rounded corners and a satinwood border, the removable central section between two flaps and with a chess board on the reverse, enclosing a removable backgammon board inlaid with lozenges of ivory and ebony, the frieze with a single drawer, all supported on rectangular end supports with panelled bases leading to downswept legs and terminating in brass castors; with ebony and ivory stringing throughout.A comparable games table is in the Noel Terry Collection at Fairfax House, York and illustrated in P. Brown's 'The Noel Terry Collection of Furniture and Clocks', York, 1987, p. 118.Before the introduction of cards in the 15th century, the most popular games of chance were those of backgammon and chess, games known in England since before the Norman conquest. Proficiency at these was considered a 'polite accomplishment' for fashionable young men and women of the Georgian era.This table is interesting in that it incorporates features of an English sofa table. Sofa tables were introduced in the late 18th century and were intended for ladies who wished to write or draw while seated comfortably at a sofa. In order to accomodate the games boards, this type of table varies from most English sofa table prototypes in that it has a dummy drawer above a single drawer rather than side by side in the frieze.Padouk is a fine furniture wood, heavy, hard and lustrous, and varies in colour from straw yellow through pink and red with darker streaks. Although it has a relatively coarse texture, it is capable of a very fine finish. Although difficult to work, it is stable and resistant to insect attack making it particularly suitable to the British colonies.The name padouk occurs in documentary sources from Madras and other British Indian centres from the mid 18th century onwards, and is almost certainly of Indian origin. Some of the best padouk grew in the Andaman islands, and references to Andaman wood or Andaman redwood suggest that Indian furniture makers made extensive use of imported Andaman padouk.
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