This dining room table is English and was built sometime after 1864 and perhaps as late as 1890. By looking at similar pieces I would put it around 1870. The table has a distinctive feature called a screw expander. A screw expander is a device which is mounted under the table which expands the table to accommodate additional leaves. The screw expander consists of a long screw which is inserted into a long tube nut. The screw is turned by means of a crank which is attached to the end of the screw through the apron of the table. By turning the crank counter clockwise the table expands. Turning it clockwise tightens the table. The table is on large casters to allow it to move freely.
Prior to this Victorian innovation leaves for tables were clipped into place or held by boards that were slid into place on the underside of the table. After that came the wooden telescoping runner system which are still seen today on most expanding tables. The use of the screw expander allows one person to easily open and close the table. All other systems usually need a person at either end to add leaves to the table.
The earliest mention in literature of the screw expander I have found is in a book first published in 1853 entitled The Cabinet- Maker's Assistant originally published by Blackie and Son publishing (now available from Dover press). It has an entire page dedicated to this mechanism and shows drawings of the basic joinery of this table.
A man by the name of Samuel Hawkins applied for a patent on a screw expander (English Patent# 1430) on June 6th, 1861. Presumably, Mr. Hawkins either died or retired because his business was taken over by young machinist named Joseph Fitter (b. 1842) in 1864. Based on an advertisement for these screw expanders it is presumed that Mr. Hawkin's went into business in 1846.
At any rate, Joseph Fitter operated a machinist shop where he produced screw expanders as well as screw expanders for piano stools and other applications at 210 Cheapside, Birmingham England by the name of Britannia Works.
I found several examples of tables using this device made from materials such as Oak, Mahogany, and Walnut. What is interesting about this table is that it is made from a variety of woods. The top surface of the table as well as three of the four apron surfaces appear to be made of Poplar. This is interesting to note because Poplar is an American wood traditionally used as a secondary wood in cabinets. The fourth apron surface (the one the crank goes through) is made of Pine. the legs of the table are made of Honduran Mahogany.
The entire table was stained to a Mahogany color and the stain had faded on the top surface (except the leaf which must have been stored). The finish on the table was scratched and was overall in bad shape so I decided to remove it and start from scratch. Above is a photo of the table as it came to me. The photos below are of the label bearing the name of Joseph Fitter and the table with the finish removed. The final photo is of an advertisement for Joseph Fitter screw expanders.