Miniature of the Month
Rent Table by Michael Walton
The 19th century Georgian mahogany rent table can be found in the Wm. R. Robertson Fine Arts Rotunda in the display of mechanical and functional furniture.
This 19th century Georgian mahogany rent table is just one example of historical re-creations by Irish artisan, Michael Walton, whose work includes both fine-scale and full-size antique reproductions. The original table’s purpose was to accept and secure rent payments from tenants who would drop their money into the appropriately lettered drawer which then emptied into a lock box at the base. “The rent table as a full-size piece was very complicated and even more challenging to replicate in one-inch scale,” he explains. “It looks like a leather-top drum table, but by pushing down the center of the table it creates a locking system. It’s designed with eight working frieze drawers with an inlaid alphabet index per drawer and the table base features a door that conceals three more working drawers.” Complicated indeed.
Miniaturists have been amazed with Michael’s work for years, but just as interesting is how it all came to be. “After technical school in Dublin, Ireland, I started working as a furniture restorer for a prestigious antique shop,” he says. “I spent eight years there crafting my trade as a restorer of 18th century furniture and maker of fine furniture of the same period.” While there, he was asked if he could possibly create 1/12-scale furniture for Tara’s Palace, a miniature castle that would feature 22 rooms filled with historically accurate fine-scale furniture. He gave it a try by making a couple dressers and a table. Intrigued by scale, he then began working on the side perfecting his miniature techniques. Before long, his work was being featured in London and, well, the rest is history.
Michael’s career with full-size antiques continues to inspire his work in miniature. His biggest muse is visiting English country homes and estates to study the furnishings. “I see that each piece of furniture has a role and a history,” he says, “That it’s made with the highest quality of construction and that it is a beautiful form of art.”
Other works by Michael can be seen throughout the KSB Miniatures Collection including a demilune commode and serving table made with period mahogany and ebony, boxwood, and amboyna veneers. He created the sunburst chair in Spencer House, as well as a full-size version of it which sits outside the rotunda.