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Breakfast Table

1800-1820
Origin: America, Tennessee or Kentucky
OH: 29 9/16"; OD: 35 7/8"; W (closed): 22 7/8"; OW (open): 47 7/16"
Cherry, tulip poplar, yellow pine, light and dark wood stringing
Gift of Reverend John E. Merchant in memory of his wife, Jane Kingsbery Harbin
Acc. No. 2011-88
APPEARANCE: Oval breakfast table with two drop leaves inlaid around perimeter of top with triple string light and dark banding; end rails bowed to conform to shape of top veneered in cherry with lightwood inlaid oval; bottom of skirt and around corners of legs and onto ends of side rails inlaid with triple string light and dark banding; solid cherry tapered legs, square in cross section, inlaid with lightwood stringing down legs from horizontal banding to solid lightwood veneered cuffs (replaced); hinged rail on each side swings to support leaves when open.

CONSTRUCTION: The hinge and end rails are tenoned into the legs. Blocks are glued at the joining of the legs and the end rails. Screws set in wells on the interior side rail surfaces secure the three-board cherry top to the frame. The rule-joined leaves are attached to the top with iron butt hinges.

The curved end rails consist of three stacked and laminated poplar and one yellow pine boards with cherry veneer. Wrought-iron nails and glue join the cherry hinge rails to the inner (poplar) side rails which are nailed to the legs. Knuckle joints are used on the leaf supports, which have angled lower edges and gouged finger holds on their back sides. Tapered blocks glued (evidence indicates possibly originally nailed) to the underside of the leaves. Centered under the top, a medial batten is glued into dados in the inner side rails. A block is glued to the batten directly under the top. There is evidence of glue blocks (now missing) at each corner formed by the rails and batten.

Light string inlay on the legs extends to the inlayed cuffs. There is also three part string inlay on the perimeter of the leaves and top and a three part inlayed band at the base of the end rails that extends around the legs and one inch into the hinge rail.
Label:This breakfast or Pembroke table descended in the family of Lillian Hannum Dean (b. 1880) and was probably made in north central Tennessee, or south central Kentucky where her ancestors lived during the first decades of the 19th century. Like many pieces of furniture from that region, this table’s form and ornament was influenced by coastal neoclassical design. Many Kentucky and Tennessee cabinetmakers trained in coastal urban centers before moving west with their designs and techniques. While the furniture of those regions shares much with its urban east coast counterparts, it often tends to be made of locally grown woods like cherry and tulip poplar rather than mahogany and pine. This table also lacks the drawer typically found in breakfast tables, as do two other known Tennessee examples.
Provenance:Table was given to the father of Jane Kingsbery Harbin (wife of donor) by Lillian Hannum Dean, his mother in law. It had belonged to her grandfather, either Dr. Henry Hannum of Russellville, KY and Maryville, TN or Dr. Daniel Ross Merritt of Franklin TN and Hadensville, KY. Presumably the parents of one of these men were the original owner of the table, suggesting either Franklin, TN, Logan, KY or Russellville, KY as the place of origin.