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Tea table. Mahogany with white pine corner blocks. Rectangular two-board top with rabbeted edges rounded to a bead that extend beyond rails. Narrow cove molding nailed to rails just below top. Shaped, scalloped skirt with cyma curves and rectiliinear shapes. Rests on cabriole legs with over-the-apron knee brackets and pad feet.
tea tables (tables)
tables (support furniture)
Norway spruce (wood)
In Cherished Possessions 2003-2005: Tea was introduced in England early in the seventeenth century. Initially a luxury drink reserved only for the very rich, it soon became the rage. Tea was drunk in private with family members in the morning and was the focus of afternoon and early evening social gatherings. Rituals grew up around tea that included standards for how and when it should be drunk and also called for an assortment of equipage to ensure that the rules were properly carried out. Tea drinking required ceramic tea cups and saucers; ceramic, silver, or pewter teapots; containers for sugar and milk or cream; and specialized furniture like this tea table.
Jonathan Sayward, shipping merchant and second wealthiest man in York, Maine, before the American Revolution, counted this piece as his best tea table. It sat in the parlor of his home, and the raised, molded edges of its tabletop kept the teapot, cups, saucers, and the remainder of the tea service securely within its confines. The English derived the concept of the molded edge from Chinese tea tables, which American craftsmen emulated in turn. A shaped rail, rather than an applied molding, forms the skirt. Sayward traveled frequently to Boston and purchased a tea chest and easy chair in that city. Sayward may have purchased this table in Boston, as well. Its knee brackets bear similarities to a table made by renowned Boston cabinetmaker George Bright.
Original to Sayward-Wheeler House (York Harbor, Me.),
Coastal New England
27 x 28 15/16 x 21 3/16 (HxWxD) (inches)
Gift of the heirs of Elizabeth Cheever Wheeler
Probably Massachusetts (United States)
Probably Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)