Magnificent 19th Century Blue John & Ashford Black Marble Tripartite Table

Magnificent 19th Century Blue John & Ashford Black Marble Tripartite Table
Important, Extremely Rare & Magnificent Blue John & Ashford Black Marble Tripartite Table, Circa 1845. The Ashford Marble top is inset with the most fabulous variants & veins of Blue John, the colour & depth are truly outstanding. The attention to detail & artistic design of the top is a masterpiece in the use of Derbyshire Blue John, showcasing all its unique properties. Set upon a turned Ashford marble column pedestal, inset with outstanding Blue John flutes with Blue John inlaid tripartite base and resting on bun feet. It is in excellent condition.

Height: 29.5 inches

Width:: 26 inches

Depth: 22.5 inches

From an Important Titled Estate where it has been since it was commissioned, most likely from Thomas Woodruff. On completion it was referred by the Latin name ”Magnificus Anglicus Lapiderm Mensam” ( magnificent English stone table ).


A Museum quality & unique masterpiece!

Blue John stone is a semi-precious mineral or fluorspar recognised by its beautiful radiating crystalline structure, which can only be mined at a site near the village of Castleton in Derbyshire. Its whereabouts were probably known from as early as 1700 through the discovery of various deposits, however, mining did not start until 1760 thereabouts, when local lapidaries probably began to make ornaments from it such as obelisks and decorative vases. The name ”Blue John” comes from the French ”bleu-jeune” or blue yellow. The deposits are not found as a single mass, but rather in veins each with its own unique banding and colour, from beautiful shades of purple and blue to creamy yellows and white. Although there are in fact many variants of each, historically grouped into fifteen named veins, with names such as Millers Vein, Treak Cliff Blue Vein, Bull Beef Vein, Winnats One Vein, Old Dining Room Vein, New Cavern Vein, New Dining Room Vein, Winnats 5 Vein, 12 Vein, Odin Vein, Old Tor Vein & the last found being Ridley Vein. One of its first recorded uses for decorative purposes must be the borders of a chimney piece supplied to Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Baron Scarsdale in around 1761 for Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire under the supervision of Robert Adam. In the 1770s, Matthew Boulton also championed the natural beauty of the fluorspar, using it frequently in his wonderful vases and perfume burners, often further enriched and embellished with ormolu mounts. Some of finest designed pieces were by Sir William Chambers, architect to George III, most of which still reside in the Royal Collection. Its use was further promoted throughout the 19th century by William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire and his son William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire, where many of their Blue-John objects can be seen in the collections at Chatsworth.

Ashford marble is in fact a type of rare limestone rather than marble, which when polished turns an incredibly rich glossy deep black. It is produced from only two quarries near Ashford-in-the-Water, Derbyshire. Patronised by royalty, the Marble Works at Ashford became a tourist attraction and demand soared following the outstanding success of Ashford marble at the Great Exhibition of 1851 when Prince Albert himself exhibited three beautifully inlaid black marble tables made at the workshops of Thomas. Woodruff of Bakewell which reportedly put even the Italian Masters in the shade. It quickly became known that both he and Queen Victoria were patrons and collectors of Ashford black marble. Today Ashford black marble ornaments & tables are greatly prized collector’s items, and the dramatic beauty of its highly polished black surface still graces the counties’ stately homes at Chatsworth, Keddleston, Haddon, and Hardwick.

Thomas Woodruff started a business in Bakewell in 1842 and was described as ‘Inlayer, and Worker in Marble’, ‘Black Marble Inlayer’ and ‘Black Marble Worker’. By 1857, he had moved to Buxton and referred to himself as a ‘petrifactioner’ – selling of fossils, mineral specimens, marble and of course ‘Blue John’ to the thriving tourist trade in Buxton. His name had been firmly established in 1851 when under the patronage of the Prince Consort, he had exhibited two inlaid tables at the Great Exhibition.

The refined elegance, extreme rarity & incredible Blue John of this Museum quality table cannot be overstated. It is a masterpiece. ​​