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Card Table

ca. 1765
Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
OH: 29 1/4"; OW: 35"; OD: 17 1/4"
Mahogany, white pine, oak, yellow pine, and white cedar
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1930-225
Appearance: Card table with rectangular top with turreted front corners when closed; when open top is square, with four rounded corners. Leaf rests on left-hand rear leg which swings out on gate attached to back rail. When open the exposed surfaces of the 'turreted' corners are cut out to receive candlesticks; adjacent to each is an oval depression which held counters used in card games. Straight front and side aprons, with serpentine blocks between them and the turrets; top covered with modern red leather with stamped gold design around edge. Gadrooned moulding applied to base. Long rectangular drawer extends almost full width of front apron; has cock-beaded edge; two bail handles with oval back plates (brass); keyhole in center encircled with ring of wood (no brass). Four cabriole legs, front two of which are embellished with cabochon-and-leaf carving on knees, flanked by scrolled knee blocks. All four legs end in claw-and-ball feet.

The upper and lower front rails and the back rail are dovetailed to the side rails and form the interior frame. Panels tenoned between the upper and lower front rails extend from the edge of the drawer compartment to the side rails and are probably dovetailed to them, forming a front rail assembly. The back rail of the frame is nailed, with wrought nails, from the inside to the fixed rail of the swing leg which is in turn knuckle joint joined to the swing rail. Back rail and swing rail are oak. The fixed and swing rails are double tenoned with pegs to stiles that are integral with the cabriole legs. Back facing knee blocks are screwed and nailed to the legs and nailed from below to the fixed and swing legs. Side facing rear knee blocks are nailed from below to the side rails.

The fixed top is nailed from the upper surface to the front, side and back rails. Nails are hidden by the leather (replaced) covering the top. The folding top is joined to the fixed top with knife hinges. The raised edge of the top as well as the candlestick cut-outs and oval depressions for counters are integral to the top.

The turrets above the front legs are comprised of three sections. The center section of the turret, which is integral with the front legs, is screwed from the inside to a triangular block placed in the inside of the corner formed by the front and side rails. The side sections of the turret, each of which includes an ogee flanking section, are glued to the center section of the turret in a possible rabbet in the front assembly and sides, glued and screwed from the back to the front rail assembly and the side rails. Shaped knee blocks for the front legs are glued and screwed to the legs and that assembly is glued to the underside of the turrets and rails, and screwed from below to the underside of the rails (modern nails added at a later date). Carved gadrooned bottom moldings between the knee blocks are nailed with sprigs from below to the underside edge of the side and front rails.

The inner side panels for the drawer compartment are nailed to chamfered rectangular vertical posts which are in turn nailed to the front and back rails. Drawer supports are nailed to the inner sides. A guide to prevent drawer tipping (probably later) is nailed to the proper right (PR) side panel. Two rectangular drawer stops are glued the back rail. Drawer compartment side panels are white cedar.

The drawer is of dovetail construction with bottom nailed into rabbets in the front and sides and to the underside edge of the back. The drawer front has cock beading nailed into rabbets in the top and sides, and to the bottom. The drawer front is mahogany, bottom is white pine, back and sides are oak. The drawer pulls and wooden lock escutcheon are replacements, the lock is original.

Woods: Primary wood is mahogany with secondary woods of eastern white pine, oak, yellow pine, white cedar.
Label:Turret top card tables first appeared in London during the 1720s and quickly spread throughout the colonies. Defined by their rounded corners, the shapely form pays homage to the late baroque style, but the gadrooned, or carved, skirt and asymmetrical foliate carving on the knees suggests a date after the mid-eighteenth century when the rococo style was popular in Philadelphia. The rear legs are not carved as they would have been hidden when the table was at rest against a wall. When used for card playing, the top could be folded back to rest on one leg that swings out from the rear, creating a square playing surface.
Mark(s):Chalk inscription on back of drawer illegible.