A Fine Late 18th/early 19th Century American Pine Tavern Table,1790-1820
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A Fine Late 18th/early 19th Century American Pine Tavern Table,1790-1820:
A wonderful early American primitive tavern or occasional table in beautifully aged northEastern pine,made in the late 18th/early 19th century and found in the attic of my 1850 clapboard in Rockaway,New Jersey,a home that I recently purchased and that had at one time served as both a general store and mule driver's barracks for the old Morris Canal.Made circa 1790-1820 and recently stored for many years undisturbed in this old place,I hardly recognized it for the table it was.It was upside down across the rafters of the attic,with a 1950s Christmas tree propped open within the legs and stretchers.I thought that the top of it was just planks across the rafters and that the legs were a home made tree stand."Good Heavens",I thought."That is positively the ugliest tree stand that I've ever seen.I wouldn't display that in my home if you paid me".
I recently began cleaning out the attic,which had the door nailed shut apparently for a long time,and I have found some wonderful furnishings,early bed linens,prints,maps and glasswares from the 18th and 19th centuries,all left to my inheritance by a thoughtful previous owner.So,as luck would have it,this was not a Christmas tree stand by a long shot.It is apparently an early pine tavern table or occasional table,reconditioned long ago to be used,I would imagine,as a coffee table,but still retaining much of it's original fine character and primitive appeal!Probably bench made by a member of a family that once resided in this region and later given it's current face lift by a descendent who lived in this home,the dimensions of the table lend me to believe that it had been used at least for the latter part of it's tenure here as a coffee table.The legs have apparently been cut down and the boards of the top readjusted.Perhaps the legs were terribly worn or riddled with wormwood from years of storage and the act of cutting them down to rid them of the damages gave this piece it's coincidentally perfect heighth for use in front of a sofa.And what a grand sofa table it would indeed make!
It is undoubtedly easily dateable to the early 19th century,but I strongly suspect it to be closer to the 1790-1800 period.The legs and stretchers have wonderful early wooden peg joinery and outstanding wear,and yet the piece is entirely stable and of strong countenance.Traces of early green paint are still evident all around the base,legs,stretchers and skirt included.The top is richly hued and is also of pine that has aged gracefully and has the mellowed dents and scuffs of a very old piece,all wrapped in an outstanding warm glow.The bowed stretchers silently tell how incredibly old this table is and work superbly with the sublime starkness of the simple plank top.I would love to have found this piece in it's entirely original state.It would have been positively breathtaking after 200 years of time-mellowed sleep.But alas,it wasn't to be.And yet,at least someone in the line of inhabitants who once graced this home found it's primitive charm worth saving and preserved enough of it's raw,post Revolutionary tenacity to let it be used in a more modern ulitarian position as a coffee table.I cannot imagine it to have been used as anything else,as the legs have been cut down to a size that instantly looked at home in front of my own sofa but isn't in my more formal taste.Hence,here it is available to anyone with more primitive taste to enjoy!
It stands 24 inches high,is 40 inches in length X 27 inches wide.I can only imagine that it was originally bench made at home and of local area Pine,or at least by a local rural craftsman,and may have served in a Rockaway eatery or tavern.It is entirely possible that it was used in this home in it's mule driver barracks days or during the Civil War period when this was the old Foundry Street General Store.Whatever it's original intended function,this beautiful primitive table has seen a great deal of New Jersey's rich history and has survived because someone helped it change with the times.And if anyone had ever peeked their head up through the crawl space hatch and thought it to be a Christmas tree stand as I did,no wonder they left it alone!
Remarkably beautiful even in it's altered state and simply reeking of early heritage,this table is one that you would be proud to put your TV remote and your bottle of beer on!(Cripes,did I really just say that?)Period 1790-1820
************FOR LOCAL AREA PICKUP ONLY IN ROCKAWAY BORO,MORRIS COUNTY,NEW JERSEY