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Tea Tables

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Tea Tables

Queen Anne Style Tray Top Tea Table

- Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions
Through the 18th century right up until the 1770’s, a good number of small rectangular tables and round tilt-top tables were crafted in Colonial America, especially in Queen Anne and Chippendale styles. We usually refer to them as “tea tables,” but did they really have much to do with tea?

Service with Flair

Yes, actually, tea tables were all about tea presentation. At a time when tea prices were high and having the means to serve the beverage was considered prestigious, every well-appointed home had a tea table in its foyer, hall, or living area waiting to serve its purpose. These tables were placed out of the way for daily use, and then moved to the middle of the room in preparation for indulgent tea parties, according to Marvin D. Schwartz’s reference American Furniture: Tables, Chairs, Sofas and Beds.

Styles, Storage, and Woods

Tea tables used during the early part of the 18th century tended to be of the rectangular variety, some of which had tray tops to aid their serving purpose. Later, round tea tables featured tilt tops so they could easily be stowed along a wall when not in use. Mahogany was widely used in tea table manufacture, but other woods such as maple were occasionally utilized as well.

The Decline of the Tea Table

When tea prices went down after the American Revolution, celebrating tea service as such a grand affair was no longer in vogue. The tea table’s popularity waned, and they were scarcely produced until Colonial revival furniture became a fad much later in history.

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