Featuring classically derived designs created with heavily gilded faux ormolu decoration and boldly carved rosewood facades, this pair of card tables stands among the most expensive card tables of its day. This pair embraces distinctive characteristics used by the firm of Deming and Bulkley. The Charleston Museum has a closely related example attributed to Deming and Bulkley which has nearly identical dolphin feet and supports, similar rope-twist balusters, a D-shaped top with canted corners as well as an oxbow shaped apron (fig. 1). They also feature design elements found on other examples of furniture produced by Deming and Bulkley including the gilt flower basket inlay on the top board (see Maurie D. McInnis and Robert A. Leath, "Beautiful Specimens, Elegant Patterns: New York Furniture for the Charleston Market, 1810-1840," American Furniture 1996, Luke Beckerdite, ed. (Milwaukee, WI, 1996), fig. 20, p. 159). According to McInnis and Leath, at least ten card tables with dolphin supports or feet have 19th century Charleston provenances including this pair which were originally purchased for the Gibbes-Smith House (McInnis and Leath, p. 160).
As McInnis and Leath describe, as European trade declined through trade embargos and war, New York became the primary exporter of goods to Charleston. Remaining the wealthiest city in America, Charleston demanded sophisticated furniture designed in the European model such as the pair of card tables offered here (McInnis and Leath, pp. 137-141). While a number of furniture companies exported to Charleston, it was Brazilia Deming (1781-1854) and Erastus Bulkley (1798-1872) who established New York as the primary supplier of high style classical furniture to Charleston where they were successful from 1818 until the 1840s (McInnis and Leath, p. 151).