An exceptional survival of New York Chippendale furniture, this card table is distinguished by its attribution to the shop of Marinus Willet and Jonathan Pearsee. Marinus Willet and Jonathan Pearsee were partners in a New York City cabinetmaking shop from approximately 1763 until 1775, when Willet joined the Continental Army. The attribution to the Willet-Pearsee shop is based on distinctive construction characteristics as identified by Frank Levy (Frank M. Levy, "A Maker of New York Card Tables Identified," The Magazine Antiques (May 1993), pp.756-763). The present lot relates to a group of nine tables, one of which is in a private collection and bears a rear rail signed in chalk Willet, all of which display a remarkable degree of consistency in their construction. All nine tables have tenoned rails with each joint secured with two pins and lacking glueblocks. Furthermore, the interior bottom portions of the sides are cut away at a sharp angle and the inside of the front rail is cut out wider and deeper than those the front rails of other New York card tables. Based on the saw marks, it appears that the front gadrooning was applied before the cabinetmakers cut away the back as the marks appear on both molding and the apron. Levy goes on to surmise that the shop likely made its knuckle joint found on the swing rail from a template because of the standard size throughout the group of nine tables.
Other interesting characteristics from this group pertain to the way pieces were assembled using nails. The rear stationary rail appears to have always been nailed to the interior rail in the same pattern of five nails, with four in the corners and one in the center. The gadrooning is also secured to the frame in a distinctive pattern with five nails: One in the center, two about five inches from the center nail and then a nail in each corner. The molding is attached to the side with three evenly spaced nails. Similarly, the tops are all secured with six screws: Two screws placed in the front and back and one screw on each side. The inside of the rails all have perfectly semi-circular screw-pockets with the depth marks laid out with scribe lines.
As identified by Morrison H. Heckscher, who broadly categorized New York Chippendale card tables into two groups, the feet on the table offered here follow Heckscher's type I tables, which are more robust and squared to those on type II tables. The rest of the Willet-Pearsee group tend to follow this pattern; the carving on the knees, however, varies in execution and indicates that the shop contracted out the carving to various carvers. See Morrison H. Heckscher, "The New York Serpentine Card Table," The Magazine Antiques (May 1973), p. 974-983).