Exquisitely inlaid with eagle, floral and husk inlay, this card table is a magnificent survival of America’s Federal-era aesthetic. While it bears similarities to both New York and Connecticut examples, the preponderance of evidence suggests a New York origin. The inlaid ornament is sophisticated and of particularly high quality and was most likely supplied by a specialist maker working in an urban center. Other forms from New York display closely related inlaid details, suggesting that several cabinet shops patronized the same specialist inlay makers. Details of the eagle ornament on this table that are seen with greatest frequency on New York forms include 16 stars, the lack of any feather markings immediately above the shield and a smooth rather than jagged outline to the lower edge of the wings. The husk inlay on the legs is unusual in that the uppermost husk overlaps the second husk rather than the reverse. This same feature is seen on a Pembroke table tentatively attributed to New York by Charles Montgomery, who also noted similarities to Connecticut and New Jersey work. Finally, the leafy floral reserves above each leg are similar to those on a pier table labelled by New York cabinetmaker Charles Honoré Lannuier (Charles F. Montgomery, American Furniture: The Federal Period (New York, 1966), pp. 349, 365, cats. 327, 347). The presence of five legs, narrowly spaced front legs, flush rear-rail construction and rail substrates consisting of five laminates are all features that are seen in New York tables and to a slightly lesser degree in Connecticut forms (Montgomery, p. 342, fn. 11; Benjamin Hewitt et al., The Work of Many Hands: Federal Card Tables in America, 1790-1820 (New Haven, 1982), pp. 94, 194, chart XII).
At the time of its sale in 2002, the table was said to have been a gift to Isaac Perkins (1780-1840) from his fellow Brothers in the Masonic St. John’s Lodge #4. Perkins was a lawyer in Hartford, Connecticut and besides serving as Master of this Lodge from 1829-1832, he was the first secretary of the Aetna Insurance Company and served as State Attorney from 1839 to 1840 (see Henry Ross Gall and William George Jordan, One Hundred Years of Fire Insurance: Being a History of the Aetna Insurance Company (Hartford, 1919), p. 30; William C. Murray, St. John's Lodge No. 4, 1762-1962 (Hartford, 1962), pp. 46, 50, 54-56, 62, 68-69). After his death, the table passed to his son, Henry Perkins (1814-1862), also a lawyer and member of the same Masonic lodge and thereafter the table descended in the family until its sale at auction in 2002.