Graceful and sinuous, this card table exemplifies the Boston Queen Anne style and is a rare, diminutive example of the turret-top form. Based on English prototypes, the form was made in relatively small numbers from the 1720s to the 1760s. Earlier examples like the table offered here display minimal embellishment and rely on the curvilinear profiles formed by the turrets, ogee blocking and cabriole legs for their decorative appeal while those in the Chippendale style feature ball-and-claw feet and carved details. The table offered here is of exceptionally small size. Only about nine turret-top tables with pad feet and widths under thirty inches survive from eighteenth-century Boston and with a width of 26 ¼ inches, this table is the second smallest in size (second only to a 25 ¾ in. table illustrated in Israel Sack, Inc., American Antiques from Israel Sack, vol. 4, p. 1068, P3973). Displaying similar designs and construction practices, the table offered here is closely related to at least two others in this group and all three may have been made in the same shop (fig. 1 and Sotheby’s, New York, The Highly Important Americana Collection of George S. Parker II from the Caxambus Foundation, 19 January 2017, lot 2057). For other turret-top tables in this group, see Christie’s, New York, Property from the Collection of Mrs. J. Insley Blair, 21 January 2006, lot 516; Northeast Auctions, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 31 October -1 November 2015, lot 630; Keno Auctions, New York, 18 January 2011, lot 175; Christie’s, New York, The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph K. Ott, 20 January 2012, lot 150; Parke-Bernet, 7 November 1942, lot 178.
The table descended from Josiah Merriam (1726-1809), a noted patriot of Concord, Massachusetts. The son of Joseph (1676-1750) and Dorothy (Brooks), Josiah married Lydia Wheeler (1724-1802) in 1746 and became a large landholder in the area. This card table may very well have been made for their marriage and most probably stood in his residence, known as Merriam’s Corner (fig. 2). Merriam was a leading proponent of American Independence and played a key role in Concord’s preparations for war. Upon the outbreak of hostilities, he served the patriot cause as both a soldier and a political leader. He fought at the battle at the Old North Bridge in which the British troops were forced to retreat and were further attacked at the site of Merriam’s Corner. In 1777, Josiah was chosen to be on the Committee of Correspondence, a post he held until 1782. He also was part of the delegation that represented his town when it hosted the State Convention in 1779 (Lemuel Shattuck, A History of the Town of Concord (Boston, 1835), pp. 121-122, 378-379).
In his will, Josiah deeded all his household goods to his wife and after her death, to his daughters. However, a tall-case clock offered in the same 1995 auction as this table was inherited by Merriam’s youngest son, Joseph (1767-1856) and it is likely that the card table descended from the eighteenth to the late twentieth century along the same lines (Skinner, Inc., Bolton, 29 October 1995, lot 162; David F. Wood, ed., The Concord Museum: Decorative Arts from a New England Collection (Concord, 1996), cat. 43, pp. 96-102). The primary beneficiary of his father’s estate, Joseph inherited all of Josiah’s real estate in Concord and like his father, resided at Merriam’s Corner. Thus, it is likely that this table stood in Merriam’s Corner for about a hundred years, from its commission until Joseph’s death in 1856. Joseph married Lucy Wheeler (1777-1841) in 1799 and the couple had ten children. Like the clock, the table probably passed to his daughter, Lucy Ann Merriam (1814-1872) who married William Brigham (1813-1853) of Boston in 1839 and then descended along the female lines to her great-granddaughter before its sale at auction in 1995 (Charles Henry Pope, comp., Merriam Genealogy (Boston, 1906), pp. 75-77, 107-108).