mason-dixon SOUTH

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Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Two Important Virginia Tilt Top Tables

Image 12Mahogany Norfolk Boxed Tilt Top Table    c. 1760-70

The candle stand or tilt top table is a furniture form which has been well documented in American households for centuries. However, assigning an origin or cabinet maker to a particular table is very difficult. These tables are constructed of three parts. The legs, the column, and the top, all are made from a primary wood.

This table has an unusual box mechanism which is dovetailed together and allows the top to rotate and tilt. Over twenty tables have been identified by this unusual construction. The box construction of the tilting mechanism places this table within two groups; tables from Norfolk, Virginia and tables from Edenton, North Carolina. For a more in depth look into the origins of boxed tables, refer to Thomas R.J. Newbern and James R. Melchor’s book, Edenton Furniture and Culture. Edenton tables follow an urn shape or vase shape patterned column. The pattern for this table is the Doric column which is seen on other tables from the Tidewater Virginia and Chesapeake Maryland areas. A point could be made that the Doric pattern predates the urn and the vase pattern. Therefore, the earliest production of these tables most likely took place in Norfolk. The influence then traveled down to Edenton. Another interesting construction characteristic found on this table is the use of a metal brace or spider to stabilize the legs to the column for added strength. This metal brace has been mortised into the bottom of the column and the bottom of the three legs, allowing the cap to sit flush with the column. The brace is secured using wrought nails.

Image 14                                                                                                       Image 10

The history of this table is still being researched, but it was purchased in Virginia and at least owned by the Rucker family in recent times.

Image 11

Tidewater Virginia or Chesapeake Maryland Tilt Top Table   c. 1760-70

This birdcage tilt table was purchased with the preceding table and therefore has the same history of descent, at least in recent years, through the Rucker family.

There are similarities between the two tables. This table is also mahogany by visual inspection, although of a lesser grade than the first table. The top and battens are very similar, and the column follows the Doric pattern, as do the four columns in the birdcage which supports the top and allows it to tilt and turn.                                                                           Image 15

A difference is the legs which have a cuff at the top joining the column and a spur underneath. The foot is more bulbous near the toe. The pattern of this leg is more traditional and has an earlier look than the Norfolk table.

Image 13Also of slightly different design but similar in application and purpose is the metal brace or spider. More elongated to add strength to the legs and reinforce the dovetail joining the legs to the column, it is also mortised into the bottom of the leg.

Although these two tables have much in common, even the possibility of descending through the same family together, they are still quite different.

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