In the days when what we call antique furniture was considered modern, there was usually a side table for every wall in the house. Each had its own function depending on where it was placed. The hall table could be rather bare where visitors could place hats, cards or the newspaper. In kitchens there were scrubbed pine varieties used for food preparation and cooking; in dining rooms more ornate varieties held platters of food, but in the drawing rooms these tables became display pieces, sometimes elaborately painted, often heavily turned and decorated with painted, marble or marquetry tops and often made of fruitwoods or walnut.
For Victorians, the drawing room side table was a perfect place to display valued items. Others could be used as writing desks or card tables and most Victorian houses had at least half a dozen of these tables. As these more showy tables usually leant against the wall, all its decoration was projected towards the front with the backs often remaining plain.
It was during the Victorian era that these side tables metamorphosed into sofa tables. Traditionally these tables had stayed very much on the sidelines, but now with castors fitted, it was easy for ladies to move tables into the main parts of the room. They were now designed to be viewed at any angle although many had one dummy and one real drawer to complete the illusion.
These tables began to suffer rather through mass production and by the end of the century were eclipsed by the more manoeuvrable occasional table. Fine examples of these side and sofa antique tables are still to be found in Lancashire and London dealerships.
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