Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Card Table

Card tables, used as side tables when closed, were produced in a wide variety of styles.

Early card tables had depressions at the four corners of the tabletop to hold candles, and often, four additional wells or "guinea holes" or pockets for holding the money or chips in use during the gaming.

The tabletops were often covered with green baize. The styles of card tables varied with the succeeding periods.

Originated in the 17th century, they became common in the William and Mary, Queen Anne and Chippendale periods, when they had tops that unfolded to be supported on a rear leg (sometimes an added fifth leg) that swings out.

The four-legged design persisted in the Federal era; but many had a pedestal base and a top that pivoted 90' when opened. Pedestal-base card tables were also made in the Empire style.

Four-legged models with swivel tops were common in later 19th-century revival styles.

Dished: A term applied to the sunken areas in the top surface of card tables, used to hold money or candles. A dished-top table has a raised edge or rim which makes the entire table surface appear to be sunken.

Mechanical card table: An early-19th-century tripod card table created by American furniture designer Duncan Phyfe. A steel rod is concealed in the turned, foliage-carvcd, hollow, urn-shaped support. It moves the rear legs and leaf brackets into a supporting position when the top leaf, which lies on top of the fixed leaf, is turned back to provide extra surface. The lower leaf is attached directly to the column. This table was usually made in pairs, of mahogany, and they were used as console tables when not used for gaming.

Examples from Buffalo:

Photos and their arrangement © 2006 Chuck LaChiusa
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