NEW YORK, 1760-1780

The serpentine hinged top with square corners above a conforming apron with gadrooned skirt, on five cabriole legs with C-scroll carved knees embellished with rocaille mantels and leafage with ball-and-claw feet
27 7/8in.high, 34in. wide, 33½in. deep

Lot Essay

This card table exhibits all the characteristics of the second of the two distinctive groups of New York Chippendale serpentine card table known as the Beekman Type (Morrison Heckscher, "The New York Serpentine Card Table," The Magazine Antiques (May, 1973) Vol. CIII, No. 5, p. 974-983). These features include the diminutive gardrooning applied on the serpentine front skirt, ball-and-claw feet on the five legs with pointed claws, and the knee carving with C-scrolls, rocaille mantels with incised cabochons and pinwheels, and bold leaf carving.

The tables in this group appear to be nearly identical in construction. The serpentine front and side skirt rails are made of thick boards with a straight inner surface and are mitered together where they join the front legs. The serpentine gadrooning strip is nailed to the front rail (the side gadrooning strips appear to be later replacements on this example). The bottom of the rear rail is cut out to accommodate the inner rear leg. The rear legs are uncarved.

A closely related card table, now in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, United States Department of State, is illustrated and discussed in Alexandra W. Rollins, et al eds. Treasures of State: Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. Department of State (New York, 1991) pp. 102-103, no. 21. A pair of tables, now at the New York Historical Society, is illustrated and discussed in Morrison Heckscher, "The New York Serpentine Card Table," p. 974-983. A fourth table is presently in the collection of The Museum of the City of New York. A fifth is in the collection at Winterthur and is illustrated and discussed in Joseph Downs, American Furniture Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods In the Henry Francis Du Pont Museum (New York, 1952) no.338. A triple-top card table in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, illustrated in Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1985), pp. 171-173, no. 103 and p. 343 (detail) may be a unique incarnation of the form.

This card table was discovered in Denmark, and may in fact have been part of the flourishing venture cargo trade between New York and Denmark via the Danish West Indies, now the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. Inhabited by the Danes in the late 17th and 18th Centuries, these three islands remained in Danish hands until sold to the United States in 1917.