Tripod tables were primarily made for holding tea and coffee equipage. Tea had been introduced into this country, from Holland, in the early 17th Century and in spite of the high prices and heavy duty imposed, it gradually became a fashionable drink and tea-drinking a fashionable passtime. Towards the middle of the 18th Century, there was a shift from the former fashion of drinking in tea gardens to drinking at home. Consequently, cabinet-makers turned their attention to the making of suitable ornamental tables, often for a special tea-room. In the Female Spectator of 1745, a contributor wrote: 'The tea-table costs more to support than would maintain two children at nurse'.
The tables were either rectangular on four legs, or had a round top on a pillar and tripod base, with the larger examples often having a tilt-top so that they could be placed against a wall when not in use. Often the tops had carved ornamental edges, or lattice-work or spindle galleries. Sometimes, small circular wells were made to hold the cups, and others were inlaid with brass and mother-of-pearl (see lot 24 in this sale). William Ince and John Mayhew illustrated designs for 'Tea Kettle Stands' in their The Universal System of Household Furniture, 1762, as did Thomas Chippendale in this The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, London, 3rd ed., 1762, p. LV.