This breathtaking billiard table is certainly no exception. Known as the "History of Australia" Billiard Table, this award-winning, hand-carved masterpiece with a matching score board has it all: royal provenance, peerless craftsmanship and an impressive international exhibition history to boot.
Carved from Australian blackwood by renowned carver George Billyeald, for the Benjamin Hulbert furniture firm in Sydney, this billiard table is recognized as the most outstanding example of Australian woodcarving ever created. Ten massive panels form the basis of the outstanding design, which details the entire history of this wonderful country with breathtaking carvings. From the depictions of the native Aborigines in the bush and the Prince of Wales plumes, to the myriad of native flora and fauna executed in eloquently high relief, every inch of its design is a tribute to the land Down Under.
Originally from a Nottingham lacemaking family, George Billyeald moved to Lane Cove, Sydney, Australia, and began the two-year process of hand-carving this table. A highly distinguished carver, Billyeald worked for Anthony Horderns, once the largest department store in Sydney, for 21 years. In New Zealand, he went on to create the most intricate carving in the interior of St. Mary's Cathedral in Christ church and the Otorohanga Public Hall.
After its display at numerous international exhibitions, including the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London, this set was sent on loan to Buckingham Palace, where it was admired by Queen Victoria and actually used by the Prince of Wales himself. In fact, the Royal family even offered to purchase the table, but Hulbert refused the offer!
The table subsequently made a world-wide journey after leaving the palace, going at some point back to Australia, then onto locales including New Zealand, Paris, New York, London, finding it's way back to the United States and, eventually, into the M.S. Rau Antiques' collection.
Beauty, rarity, history...it simply doesn't get much better than this. Pieces of this magnitude find their way onto the market once in a lifetime-if you're lucky.
Benjamin Hulbert, New South Wales, Australia;
C.R. Rainger, Auckland, NZ;
Ray Court, Herne Bay, Auckland, NZ;
Capt. Harry Carey, Glendowie, Auckland, NZ
Christie's London, May 27, 1980
Gerald Lawhorn, Albany, Georgia, USA
Partial Exhibition Record:
Colonial and Indian Exhibition, London 1886
Auckland Exhibition, New Zealand, 1913-1914
Melbourne Centenary Exhibition, Australia, 1934
Price $750,000 US