(Please see the pictures below) I have very little information about this table, but it is an EXQUISITE EXAMPLE of Craftmanship. (I would greatly appreciate any additional information anyone may have on this item, including what the fair market value may be.) This table is in excellent condition for its age. From what information I have been able to get by researching the internet, I believe this table was made in the late 1800’s or the early 1900’s. When I first acquired this set I did some online research and a similar sized table with 6 stools that had with it a photo of a newspaper ad “For sale $10,000 firm”. I believe the ad was from 1993, and it claimed that particular oval table with 2 rectangular and 4 triangular stools had possibly been on display as an exposition item at the 1903 World’s Fair (which actually took place in 1904).
I have seen just a few other tables similar to this, but none as SPLENDIDLY UNIQUE as this one, and none in what appeared to be as original a finish as this one. I have not found any references or pictures that represented a deeply carved set in the ebony & ivory motif like this one. The carving on all seven pieces match, so this is a complete set. The carving on the table's top is splendid, very intricate, and extremely well done. It goes about 1 1/2" deep and is very 3 dimensional as the pictures show.
Of the very few other similar pieces I have seen (4 or 5), none have had this finish, and two of them were smaller round tables, with 4 stools, or no stools. I have not yet seen another set with 6 matching oval shaped stools with an oval table. All the others I have seen have 4 legged rectangular and/or 3 legged triangular shaped stools. The few sets that I have seen have been finished in a brown stain that was what I can best describe as similar to mahogany (including the one that supposedly was displayed at the World’s Fair). The finishes on the others also seemed very shiney and newer looking, almost like they had been refinished at some time. I believe this table has its original finish, which I think the pictures portray fairly well. The table and the stools all seem to be very sturdy with no loose legs or other loose pieces.
I have been unable to find any identifying marks, stamps, numbers, signatures, labels, etc., anywhere on the table or any of the stools. I even looked thoroughly on the undersides. The undersides all look similar to the one picture showing the underside of the table. There is one portion of the side of the table that shows some wearing away of the ivory-colored finish (see pics). The table top is protected by a glass top, which I have never removed. The only damage I can see is towards the center of the scene, where there are two spear tips that are broken off. The pieces are still inside the table top & under the glass and it looks like an easy repair, but I would have a professional do it to minimize any negative effect on its value. There a also a couple of chips black lacquer missing on the top of the table. (see pictures)
The 3D scene carved into this table depicts a battle with warriors on foot and on horse back, amongst a setting of trees and buildings. I researched a little on line trying to find battle scenes with a similar depiction of warriors and in the same style. The results I got leaned heavily in the direction of one of the best known historical figures in East Asia. General Guan Yu, who served under the warload Liu Bei at the turn of the third century during the Han Dynasty, was a major player in the civil war that led to the collapse of the Han Dynasty. He apparently is a favorite hero of Chinese history who is represented in many stories, as well as art works of all types. I can’t say for sure, but I think it may be a representation of the famous Guan Yu in battle. (I will most likely be listing this item on eBay or possibly elsewhere in the near future.)