With our absolute highest compliments Bay Colony Antiques takes the utmost pleasure in offering one of the finest and most significant tea tables we have ever had the privilege of owning. We are always traveling across the country in the pursuit of the earliest and rarest historical collections that are still in private ownership and it is only in that spirit that the discovery of institutional level antiques are even possible. Early American tea tables first came into fashion during the second quarter of the 18th century with the first generation of tables having primitive distinctions from the more sophisticated forms which emerged toward the years around the American Revolution. The Queen Anne variation is most commonly comprised of a circular top hinged to a pedestal base by two cleats mounted to the underside of the table. The tilt top tea table became a staple of early interior furnishing throughout the historical north east and both demand for the furniture form and cabinet makers and wood turners proficient in the style traveled from the wealthy northern port cities and into the southern colonies. It is the lowland regions of Charlestown, South Carolina and the greater region of Tidewater Virginia where the earliest southern examples of the Queen Anne tilting tea table are first encountered.
The scholarship around the study of early Southern American furniture is a balanced discussion of refinement and primitive technical proficiency in the art of woodworking overall. Quite often a regional southern furnishing can be very well made but demonstrates that the craftsman is lacking in other areas that a seasoned craftsman from a port city may have been well versed in. For instance a southern chest may have a finely joined case but elements of the chest are blocky and disproportional. In the tradition of a Northeastern port city all apprentices in respective trades are taught to adhere to uniform standards of design which creates continuity between unrelated trade shops located in neighboring communities. Our passion for southern furniture extends from the fact that it is so unique and that no two pieces are truly ever identical. Throughout the 18th century a gradual evolution takes place where joinery, turning, carving, and design improves steadily until the end of the century where sophisticated forms and woodworking techniques are commonplace and proliferated extensively anywhere fine homes are found. For collectors of early and important furniture a strong desire for the earliest generation of these designs from the early Queen Anne era, circa 1740 - 1760, remain among the most heavily sought after in the entire American antiques market. This tea table now being offered at present is the perfect example of an early and important variation of the iconic Queen Anne form.
The most sophisticated element of this tea table is the masterfully turned pedestal which is stylized after a classical Greco-Roman baluster. The pedestal is overall of one singular design however using transitional elements the turner created secondary designs such as a smaller classical column on the top of the pedestal and a compacted Grecian baluster form urn. The expertly designed pedestal is in contrast with other elements of the table which are less refined indicating the hand of a talented but unseasoned cabinetmaker. The overall stature of the table is diminutive with the height being slightly shorter than most tripod tea tables of this form. The table top is the same common form and size as most other tea tables from this era whereas tables with tops smaller in circumference are generally referred to as candlestands or kettle stands. The table is raised on three well formed snake legs which do not have the same refinement as the pedestal however do indicate that the cabinetmaker was proficient in the style. The original 18th century iron spider support is visible when the table is flipped over revealing tremendous character and age. Of particular interest is the original pedestal block which fastens the pedestal shaft to the cleat supports on the underside of the top. This element is the most primitive and distinctive of every component of the table. Marvelous rose head iron nails fashioned in the most simplistic 18th century manner are prominent indicating the early age and rural craftsmanship of this table. We note that a modern pivoting wooden latch was affixed to the back which allows the top to lock when the table is being used for serving. There is no evidence of any kind that there ever was a turtle lock or commonplace mechanism as is the case with nearly every Queen Anne table of this form. We believe that the simple wooden latch although replaced has served as the latching mechanism throughout the entire history of the table. In rural areas of American mechanisms were not commonly available and quite often tables were fitted later in their life with an appropriate latch. To find an example that was never fitted or altered with a mechanism is another testament to the early and rare nature of this exceptional tea table. The table has a 26 1/4” diameter and stands 39 1/4” tall when open. When the top is locked down the table is 24 1/2” tall.