Hailed by Morrison Heckscher as "the one brilliant exception" to the notion that pre-1800 era furniture from New York was uninspired, the five-legged Chippendale card table stands as the most celebrated and quintessentially New York form from the colonial period. This table, with its exquisitely rendered asymmetrical C-scroll carving and refined claw-and-ball feet, is a superlative example of the form. As defined by Heckscher, these tables can be broadly placed into one of two categories based on their decorative designs and interior construction. Labeled as type I (Van Rensselaer) and type II (Beekman), these categories are named after families that owned typical examples of each type.
The presently offered example falls into the type I or Van Rensselaer category. Characteristics include a wonderfully bold and deep serpentine skirt, gadrooning on both the front and side of the aprons, and foliate carving which drapes over both sides of the front legs, as well as on the side of the rear leg. The feet also tend to be heavier and not as delicate as the type II examples.
The knee carving on the type I tables generally falls within four unique categories. This table falls into the group that Heckscher refers to as "incised peanut and pinwheel". The carving above the C-scroll and leafage is characterized by incised "peanuts" or cabochons and "pinwheels". The original gadrooned apron on this table is atypical. Usually, tables with this style of knee carving have an apron adorned with unique foliate vine and grape decoration.
Furthermore, this table exhibits classic type I construction outlined by Heckscher. The first feature is distinguished by having a solid mahogany front and side aprons. The interior edges of the apron typically mirror the exterior shape of the skirt. They also tend to terminate flush with the inner corners of the legs. Both the fly and outer stay rails are constructed from oak. For other examples of type I tables, please see Morrison H. Heckscher, "The New York serpentine card table," The Magazine Antiques (May 1973), pp. 974-983.