With our highest compliments and utmost honors, Bay Colony Antiques is proud to offer for sale this fantastic late 18th / early 19th century antique Mahogany card table. Most people immediately attribute 5 legged card tables like this to New York City but they were also made in the surrounding states and even down south but were much more prevalent in New York. The top of the table is made from one of the most impressive pieces of Mahogany that we’ve ever seen. There’s a very nice mottling in the grain and a slight plum pudding effect present. The top has a cross banded mahogany border that’s nicely accented with a contrasting light Holly inlay. The apron has crotched mahogany panels all around with a contrasting inlay in geometric patterns and surrounding the inlaid panels above each leg.
The legs have a string inlay around the edges with inlaid cuffs and restorations at the very bottom. The bottoms of the legs were probably water damaged and a restorer attempted to replace the very bottoms with legs from another table. We applaud the effort and it probably seemed like a good idea on paper but they likely didn’t account for the slight difference in the degree of the taper. The restoration is most noticeable on the front right leg but we were willing to look past this on such a special card table. The under board has an old age split that is stable and covered up nicely but there’s a slight ridge to it. There’s also an old repair to the front right of the top that can be seen on our top down photo and a repair at the center of the back on the under board. The sides and apron are clean with our only note being a very tiny bit of shrinkage near the black mark on the front of the apron. We are usually very critical when it comes to repairs and alterations but we were willing to make an exception for this table considering its desirable form, exceptional wood grain, and because it’s signed by the cabinet maker. The table was expertly refinished sometime after the repairs and the natural luster of the wood and striking grain are highlighted nicely. The finish is closer to a French polish and does show slight signs of wear like light scratching and a few old ink stains but nothing that would warrant a refinishing in our opinion.
The table is stamped CLAY underneath the top with other faint pencil script that we couldn’t really make out. There are a few known cabinet makers with the last name Clay the most notable being Daniel Clay of Greenfield Massachusetts & Porter Clay from Lexington Kentucky. It’s believed Daniel Clay may have apprenticed in New York City and Porter Clay spent a brief stint in New York City after fleeing his cabinet making apprenticeship in Kentucky. While on the run Porter spent his time in New York City working as a journeyman in some of the city's finest cabinet shops learning new techniques and styles. We really can’t rule out either individual because neither man was afraid to work out of their preferred style. Most cabinet makers didn’t sign their work, but Daniel Clay does have a few pieces with surviving paper labels. This table might predate his use of labels or it was simply just lost over time. There are no know pieces signed by Porter Clay, but a growing number of items are being attributed to his shop, mainly his work with concave faces. Historic Deerfield has a wonderful Daniel Clay collection and the MESDA museum recently published a couple of great articles about Porter Clay. It would be wrong to assume Porter Clay was only making pieces with convex curves and that Daniel Clay would only be making Cherry furniture with Rococo elements and gadrooned edges. Cabinet makers were subject to their customers taste and both Daniel Clay & Porter Clay were quite prolific yet only a handful of items are universally accepted to be made by them. The table measures 36” wide x 18 3/4” deep x 30” tall. When the top is open the table measures 36” wide x 37 1/2” deep.