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Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770-1854)

New York 1815-1820

The cross banded oblong swivel-top with canted corners opening to a banded felt playing surface, the frieze, under a knife edge molding, boasting a central gilt bronze mount with two facing swans and two gilt bronze foliate mounts on the canted corners, a star stamped brass filigree band inlaid in ebony wraps the lower edge of the frieze, the case supported by four colonettes with gilded Doric capitals and bases, resting on a concave shaped and molded plinth with brass string inlay, raised on carved gilt and vert-antique painted feet with brass casters.

Condition: excellent, the gilded elements are restored, the vert-antique paint on the dolphin bodies appears to be original but now lacks an over coating of tinted varnish that would darken the green scales. The wood has been recently polished with shellac consistent with the practice of the early 19th century. A short piece of brass inlay missing from proper left side.

H: 29¾”  W: 36”  D: 18”

After the war of 1812, French cabinetmakers in New York like Honoré Lannuier began to introduce French styles.  Furniture began to sprout zoomorphic elements such as lion, elephant, dolphin and dog feet.  Eagles and other winged elements were also popular.  Phyfe felt pressure to compete and conformed to the new taste, and this table is a result.

Several card tables with identical dolphin feet exist but with differing pillars and differing case treatments,  One in this group, uses the same ball and reeded-drum pillars used by Phyfe on the pair of card tables made in 1815 for James Brinckerhoff.  This is a device used extensively by Phyfe in beds, candle stands and single pedestal card, breakfast and dining tables.  The dolphin feet also link this table to an important group of tables, attributed to Phyfe, with carved griffins and eagles.  Of the group of approximately twenty tables now known, two have these distinctive dolphin feet.[1]

Virtually identical to a pair of card tables at Winterthur Museum, except for the bronze mounts, which are of a different design, this table boasts the very best the period has to offer.

[1] For a further discussion of the link to Phyfe, see: Peter M. Kenny, Michael K. Brown et. al., Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011), p. 82-4.

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