Numerous "Cumberland Action" drop-leaf dining tables have survived, and most of them have histories in the Boston area. Of this known body of tables, the example offered here is the only one that bears a makers label, that of Thomas Constantine of New York (see detail). Constantine trained in the shop of John Hewitt, and was certainly capable of crafting this table. However, he may have imported it from Boston, and placed his label on it for resale. The secondary woods (birch, maple, and white pine) are more in keeping with Boston examples, though these woods were available to New York cabinetmakers. Telescoping and accordian-action dining tables were more popular in New York than the Cumberland-Action system of this table, but again a New York shop such as Constantine's could have produced it.
There is little precedent for the importation of Boston furniture to New York during this period, but the construction of this table suggests that may have been the case. A closely related table at Colonial Williamsburg has a history of descent from James Hughes (1777-1832) of Baltimore, and similarly could have been shipped there to be retailed in another shop. The majority of other tables with known histories support a Boston attribution for the group. A very closely related example attributed to Thomas Seymour is illustrated in Robert Mussey, The Furniture Masterworks of John and Thomas Seymour (Salem, Massachusetts, 2003), cat. no. 96.
Winterthur Fellow Matthew Thurlow has been conducting research into Constantine and into this group of tables, and this is the only such labeled table that has surfaced in his research. As such, this table is an important document that may ultimately prove to be the key to better understanding this group of dining tables, and may reveal more about the Federal period venture cargo and practices and the trade between shops.