During these long winter evenings, it is always great to try your hand at a card game with some close friends or loved ones. In England card playing was one of the most popular pastimes in the 18th century and this fine quality game table would have been a coveted item. Made in the style of cabinetmaker and designer Thomas Chippendale, this piece features a cabriole leg, carved hairy paws, and claw and ball feet.
The top of the piece is solid mahogany, unlike many contemporary English pieces, which use mahogany veneers instead. The secondary wood is oak. Secondary woods like oak were cheaper and placed in areas not generally seen by the users. This piece has much of its original hardware. Its unusual accordion-fold sides swing out to accommodate the tabletop with what is known as concertina action. An action describes how a piece of furniture can move.
The concertina action game tables were much more comfortable than gate leg tables that when unfolded left a table leg in the middle of the side, an uncomfortable situation for whoever sat there. Concertina action tables were also more expensive as the mechanism was complex to construct. On this table, there are four inset holders designed for candles and inset dishes for loo counters, which were generally made from mother of pearl.
If, like many others, you are staying closer to home this winter, you may want to practice the Scandinavian tradition of hygge. While English doesn’t have a word equivalent to hygge the closest is “cozy.” Practicing hygge means appreciating all things that bring you warmth, joy, and pleasure– like eating good food, lighting candles, reading books, and playing card games with close friends. While we may not have an 18th century card table to play on, we can still learn historic games like whist or loo that were played in the past. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin best sums up taking pleasure in the small moments when he writes:
“Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.”
Medium: Mahogany and Oak
F98 Museum Purchase in 1954