The popularity of playing cards in the 17th century is mirrored through the determination of cabinet makers of the time to produce an occasional table, designed particularly for the purpose. It was not sufficient to have an ordinary table which could double up for other occasional use, the card table stood alone with its green baize top and a folding mechanism designed to protect the baize when not in use.
During the reign of Queen Anne, the cabriole leg as a design feature was incorporated. Often one or both of the back legs was hinged to support the flap when it was extended out. The most popular shape at this time was square, which opened out into a rectangle and generally pieces were made from walnut. Georgian examples of the antique table were later made of mahogany, when walnut became scarce, but the cabriole leg remained as an enduring feature for many years, often decorated with acanthus leaves, with pad or ball and claw feet.
It was the neo-classical card table which introduced a straighter, lighter piece of furniture and tapering legs finally replaced the traditional cabriole. Satinwood, with delicate stringing and inlaid tops, also became fashionable during this period, but the folding mechanism to protect the surface remained. The Regency card table however had a central column rather than four legs and the introduction of the swivel top obviated the need for the moving back leg support. This design was so successful that it continued to be made throughout the Victorian era.
When buying period or revival antique tables in Lancashire or Cumbria, visit local antiques dealers who will happily advise you on good quality pieces.
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