Antique Tables: Styles, History, and Value

Antiques & Vintage, Products, Tables

Antique tables are not just functional furniture pieces but also a reflection of the past. From the ornate designs of the Victorian era to the sleek lines of mid-century modern, antique tables come in various styles and have a rich history. Whether you’re a collector or just appreciate the beauty of these pieces, this guide will provide insight into the world of antique tables, including their styles, history, and value.

Antique tables are not just functional furniture pieces but also a reflection of the past. From the ornate designs of the Victorian era to the sleek lines of mid-century modern, antique tables come in various styles and have a rich history. Whether you’re a collector or just appreciate the beauty of these pieces, this guide will provide insight into the world of antique tables, including their styles, history, and value.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Antique Tables

Antique tables offer a glimpse into the past in addition to being useful pieces of furniture. Each table has a different tale, from the materials used to make it to the design and style that capture the time it was constructed. This guide will provide you with a thorough explanation of the history, styles, and value of antique tables, whether you’re a collector or just admire their beauty and craftsmanship. So let’s explore the world of antique tables and see why they are so unique.

History of Antique Tables

The history of antique tables is extensive, spanning several continents and decades. The oldest wooden or stone tables are thought to have originated in ancient Egypt. Tables evolved over time and were frequently utilised as status symbols by the wealthy. Tables from the Renaissance era were frequently adorned with complex carvings and inlaid with priceless materials like mother-of-pearl and ivory. In the 18th and 19th centuries, tables improved in functionality and were made for particular activities, such as writing or dining. These days, collectors and enthusiasts prize antique tables for their aesthetic appeal, fine craftsmanship, and historical relevance.

Western dining tables, especially those from the Middle Ages, were made of basic boards that rested on trestles and were constructed with pegs to make it simple to assemble and disassemble them as needed. These trestle-based tables, sometimes known as “refectory tables,” were first used in monasteries and eventually adopted for use in the Great Halls of medieval castles.

During major parties, enormous rectangular ancient wood tables made of oak and elm took center stage, but they proved to be heavy and difficult to carry once the feasts had over. This was a challenge because most halls served more than just meals. It would take some time before the concept of a separate dining room caught on.

Styles of Antique Tables

There are many different styles of antique tables, and each has its own distinctive qualities and background. The most well-liked architectural eras include Victorian, Chippendale, and Queen Anne. Chippendale tables are more ornate and have intricate carvings, whilst Queen Anne tables are noted for their beautiful curves and delicate detailing. Conversely, Victorian tables are frequently larger and more ornate, with decorative features like inlaid wood and marble tops. You may recognise and recognise the unique qualities and value of antique tables by understanding the various styles.

Around the Victorian period, a variety of different antique table types that served more specialised uses began to emerge. The different kinds of tables seem endless, ranging from pier tables to hall tables, drafting tables to pool tables. Here is a simple reference to identifying antique tables, different types of tables, and some terms related to vintage table design. Many of these phrases can be used to describe a single table, as you’ll see. A tilt-top table, for instance, might also have a pie crust edge and a pedestal base.

Trestle Tables

The trestle table, which predominated in the Middle Ages, is distinguished by a tabletop that rests on a trestle, a structure made of a horizontal stretcher or beam, and two pairs of central, sloping, crossing legs that are set back from the edge of the table. Trestle tables are provided for the most sitting possible without the obstruction of four corner-located table legs.

Samuel Trestle Desk with Leather Top

This was significant in the early days of the trestle table since guests were frequently only seated on one side of the table while food and beverages were served from the other. Since most early castles lacked eating rooms, it was crucial that these early tables were of peg construction and simple to disassemble

Gate Leg Tables

As dining customs started to evolve in the late 1600s, the gate leg table was first utilised in England. Smaller tables that could be conveniently packed away or relocated when not in use were needed for more intimate dining setups. Early gate leg tables had six legs and two leaves that could be hinged and dropped down when not in use. These “flaps” resembled gates because when they were opened, they were supported by pivoting legs that could swing out from the frame and were attached at the top and bottom by stretchers.

Drop Leaf Tables

Another design of a drop leaf table has two hinged leaves that fold down on either side of a fixed piece in the middle. The drop leaf table has four fixed legs as opposed to the gate leg table’s additional legs, which pivot from the base, supporting the leaves. Oval, round, square, or rectangular tops are common for drop leaf tables, and the leaves’ lengths can range from a few inches to nearly touching the ground. As far back as the Elizabethan era, early instances of an antique drop leaf table were mostly discovered in England.

1960’s Danish Extendable Dining Table

Pembroke Tables

The Pembroke table, which is made in a variety of sizes and designs, is distinguished by a centre drawer and two flaps of different forms that, when lifted, are supported by hinged brackets known as “elbows.” Pembroke tables, commonly referred to as “flap and elbow tables,” were typically made of mahogany and had thin, tapered legs.

They were mobile thanks to casters at their base, which made it easy to use them for pouring tea, writing letters, or eating meals beside the bed. Pembroke tables in America were made from a larger choice of woods, like cherry or maple.

Demilune Tables

Demilune, which means “half-moon” in French, is the ideal name for these “half-round” tables. The lack of corners on these semi-circular tables allows them to hug the wall. Demilunes, which were common in France in the 1700s, were the ideal, small decoration to beautify the constrained hallways or entranceways of Parisian residences.

From the elaborate Louis XVI design to the more traditional English Hepplewhite and Sheraton antique table types, they are available in almost every style. They were made of gilded wood, satinwood, or mahogany. Exquisite marble top countertops, marquetry, or hand-painted ornamentation are also excellent examples. These adaptable tables might even include a single drop leaf or storage.

Console Tables

Antique French console table with marble top form circa 1850.


H 95 x W 143 x D 56cm

19th Century French Console Table with Marble Top

The design of the space was unified by every component, including the hardware and the upholstery. Console tables were created in an infinite number of variations as their popularity grew, but they always share the same fundamental characteristic: they are made to sit flush against a wall or other flat surface. Early console tables often had two legs that were supported by an S-shaped bracket called a “console.” Later specimens started to have four legs, which allowed them to stand upright without support brackets. In contrast to demilune tables, consoles come in a variety of shapes.


The guéridon is a small round table that is used in France. It is usually topped with sculpted mythical figures made of wood, bronze, or another metal. The guéridon was first used to hold candles or vases when it was first introduced in France in the middle of the 17th century.

Circa 1900 French Gueridon Table

Circa 1900 French Gueridon Table with Glass Top

Dimensions – H76cm

It might be embellished with marble, marquetry, ornamental paintings, porcelain, or any number of exotic materials, and it was also employed as a high-style decorative piece of furniture at the courts of the French monarchs.

In fact, Versailles was home to many hundred of these small tables around the time of King Louis XIV’s passing in 1715. They are the ideal addition to any decor because of their small size and range of forms.

Pedestal Tables

Regency Style Twin Pedestal Dining Table

Extendable regency-style dining table in mahogany with twin pedestals. Any table supported by a single column, pedestal, or, in the case of dining tables, many pedestals are referred to as a pedestal table. Pedestal tables can be any size or kind of table. Pedestal tables first appeared as candle stands, then larger versions gained popularity in the late 18th century.

Larger pedestal tables were used for dining in smaller homes, while others used them as side or display tables. The pedestal dining table gained popularity in America during the Victorian era and was made from many types of wood, including oak. Although they are most frequently circular, square pedestal tables are also available. Pedestal tables are distinguished by their center, frequently enormous and decorative pedestal base. The period in which the table was made can be determined by the design of the pedestal feet and the pedestal’s shape.

Tea Tables

Brass Bamboo and Leather Trolley

Vintage brass finish trolley with tan leather and clear beveled glass.


H 84 x W 74 x D 44.50cm

It should come as no surprise that this table design was first used in England, a nation that is intrinsically linked to tea and its customs. However, the tea table was also well-liked in the American colonies, where drinking tea was also a tradition. Simply put, a tea table is a compact, stable table used for serving tea. The majority of tea tables up until the early 18th century were rectangular in design. However, around 1720, the circular tea table gained popularity and was made in a variety of styles, including tilt-top, pie-crust, simply embellished, and ornately carved tables. Some tea tables have a tray top that may be removed. For afternoon tea, the tea table was moved to the middle of the space and then put back when not in use.

Pie Crust Tables

Queen Anne and Chippendale furniture styles are most frequently linked with this little, round tea table, which was first made in England in the middle of the 18th century.

The top of the table, which is elevated and has a scalloped edge that is either carved or molded to mimic the crimped crust of a pie, makes it stand out. Pie crust tables normally have a tilt top and measure between 25 and 30 inches across. They are typically supported by a single pedestal with a tripod base. The best specimens of this antique wood table style have tops fashioned from a single piece of wood and are typically made of mahogany.

Drum Tables

Due to their rounded, drum-like appearance, drum tables gained popularity in England in the 18th and 19th centuries and were typically used in the libraries of affluent homes. The table’s deep apron was fitted with drawers and frequently had a top made of leather or inlaid wood, giving it a practical workplace for organising one’s business affairs.

Landlords would use them to collect rent; they are also referred to as “rent” tables. One party would put money in one of the drawers, then spin the table to the other, who would take the money out of the drawer. It was seen as a discrete and gentlemanly method of transferring money. These tables come in a wide variety of designs, materials, and embellishments, but they may be recognised by their shape, relative diminutiveness, and deep apron with drawers.

Irish Wake Tables

These substantial “wake” tables were expertly built with folding side panels to support and exhibit a coffin before burial. Wake tables, particularly of such extraordinary size and caliber, are uncommon outside of Ireland. Circa 1870

The Irish wake table is more than just a beautifully made table; it is a part of Irish tradition, making it one of the most fascinating of all tables. These enormous, exquisite tables have spherical leaves that, when folded, surround a center table top that exactly matches the size and length of a coffin. The table takes on an oval shape when the leaves are opened.

Celtic tradition required that the recently deceased’s body be constantly observed for a number of alleged reasons, including the potential for evil spirits to steal both the body and the soul. As a result, the casket would be placed on the wake table so that mourners might gather around and show their final respects to the departed.

These tables were also employed for meals or as portable hunt tables that held refreshments for the hunt when they weren’t being called into service. Wake tables are incredibly uncommon and come in a range of qualities. They frequently have eight legs, four fixed and four swings, to support the leaves, and are made of oak or mahogany. In other instances, the expanded leaves are supported by sliding brackets.

Hunt Tables

The hunt table was used for enjoying refreshments before and after a fox hunt. The table’s unique semi-circular design, removable leaf, and brass serving mechanism allowed this versatile table to be utilized in a number of ways. First, it could be brought into a parlor in front of a roaring fire, with the pivoting brass “chariot” in the center holding a warming beverage that could be slid around the table on its track to serve the huntsmen.

Second, the chariot could be removed to allow a member of the hunt staff to serve the hunters outdoors either before the hunt or upon their return. Third, with the centre leaf installed and set up as a buffet, the table might be used as a service station in a living area.

Games Tables

The antique games table is a very adaptable piece of wood furniture that was very well-liked throughout Europe and America. It was made specifically for the purpose of playing games. The two-layered top of the games table, which could be flipped open on a hinge to double the table’s size, is usually what distinguishes them. When these antique dining room and accent tables are opened, they may include a playing surface made of leather, felted material, or, in some cases, an inlaid chess or backgammon board.

These tables’ ornate designs vary greatly, which reflects the place and time they were made. The mechanisms can also vary significantly; for example, some have a swinging leg to hold the leaf, while others are mounted on a swivel mechanism that, when turned, enables the surface to be supported on fixed legs or a pedestal. In some cases, different table layers can be opened to reveal different playing surfaces.

Paolo Moschino’s Antique Tables

Caring For Your Antique Table

This Irish mechanical dining table converts into a fully supplied games table with just a few turns, making it a work of exceptional invention and rarity. The table, which was expertly crafted from Cuban mahogany, has a stunning patina and a finely sculpted base. Circa 1900.

When cleaning and displaying antique tables, particular care should be taken, just like with any fine piece of antique furniture. Here are some pointers from our internal specialists:

  1. The typical upkeep for an antique table is routine dusting with a soft, dry cloth. When dusting, take care not to snag your delicate cloth on any protruding mounts, hardware, or veneers.
  2. When waxing, use the wood’s grain to apply a very thin coat, let it dry, and then buff it with a clean cloth. After a few hours, a second buffing might improve the wood even more.
  3. Steer clear of any polish or spray wax (wax in a can). The majority of them include a lot of harsh chemicals, such as silicone, which can soak into the wood and leave a film.
  4. Metal cleansers shouldn’t be applied on bronze or brass mounts. Such cleansers have the potential to harm the surrounding wood’s finish and remove it. They may also accumulate in cracks, turn white, and become exceedingly challenging to get rid of.
  5. When handling any object with bronze or brass mounts, wear gloves since the acid and oil your skin secretes can corrode the metal and produce stains that are extremely difficult to remove.
  6. Avoid using a dry cloth on intricately carved objects as it may damage the carved edges. Use a high-quality feather duster instead.
  7. Keeping a consistent environment in terms of humidity and temperature can go a long way toward preserving the appeal and solidity of your piece of solid wood furniture.

Factors that Affect the Value of Antique Tables

The value of an antique table is determined by a variety of factors, including its age, rarity, condition, and provenance. Tables that are in excellent condition and have a well-documented history of ownership by famous or important individuals can command high prices at auction. Additionally, tables that are made by well-known craftsmen or are representative of a particular style or period can also be highly valuable. However, it’s important to note that the value of an antique table can fluctuate over time and is ultimately determined by the market demand for that particular piece.

Antique tables can be a lovely and priceless addition to any house, but why are they so valuable? An antique table’s worth can vary depending on a number of criteria, including age, rarity, condition, and origin. Here are the top things to think about when estimating an antique table’s worth.

Age and Rarity

The age and rarity of antique tables are two of the most significant variables that influence their price. In general, a table is more valuable the older and rarer it is. Older antique tables—those that are more than 100 years old—are valued higher than younger ones. Furthermore, tables that were produced in small quantities or by well-known makers are in high demand by collectors and might fetch a higher price.

Quality of Craftsmanship

The level of craftsmanship is a significant component that influences the value of antique tables. Collectors place a great value on tables that were crafted with exceptional workmanship and attention to detail. Included in this are elements like the accuracy of the joinery, the calibre of the wood used, and the complexity of any carvings or inlays. For their superior craftsmanship, tables manufactured by master craftsmen or well-known makers are particularly admired.

Historical Significance

The value of an antique table can be significantly influenced by its historical relevance. Tables that belonged to great people or were used during important occasions might be highly prized by collectors. A table that was utilised during a significant meeting or event, for instance, might be worth more than a comparable table that was unrelated to any noteworthy events. Additionally, due to their historical relevance, tables that were constructed in a certain era or style may also be worth more money.

Condition and Restoration

One of the most crucial aspects that determines an antique table’s value is its condition. A table with no significant dents or repairs in excellent condition will normally be worth more than a table in less desirable condition. It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that certain collectors may favour old and used-looking tables because these characteristics can contribute to their authenticity and character. The value of an antique table may also be impacted by restoration. A table may be worth more if it has been meticulously restored using conventional techniques and materials than if it has undergone extensive alterations or repairs utilising contemporary materials.

Materials Used

An antique table’s worth can be significantly impacted by the materials used to make it. Mahogany or rosewood are two examples of rare or exotic timbers that have higher value than more common woods like oak or pine. Furthermore, tables with elaborate inlay work or decorative accents like mother-of-pearl or brass can raise their worth. When establishing the value of a table, it is crucial to take into account the calibre of the materials used as well as the skill involved in its construction.

Tips for Buying and Caring for Antique Tables

If you’re interested in buying an antique table, it’s important to do your research and work with a reputable dealer or appraiser. Look for tables that are in good condition and have a clear history of ownership and provenance. When caring for your antique table, avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaners, and keep it out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Regular dusting and polishing can help maintain its beauty and value over time.

Any home can benefit from the elegance and history that antique tables can bring, but keeping them beautiful and valuable requires specific care. These suggestions can assist you in selecting the ideal antique table and maintaining it in top shape for years to come, whether you are an experienced collector or a first-time buyer.

Understand the Value of Your Antique Table

It’s crucial to comprehend the value of your antique table before you begin taking care of it. This might assist you in deciding how much maintenance it need and whether paying for professional restoration is worthwhile. An antique table’s worth may vary depending on its age, rarity, condition, and provenance (ownership history). To determine the worth of your table, you can speak with an appraiser or conduct your own study.

Keep Your Antique Table Clean and Dust-Free

Maintaining a clean, dust-free environment for your antique table is one of the most crucial things you can do to care for it. Over time, scratches and damage from dirt and dust can be done to the table’s surface. On a regular basis, gently wipe the table’s surface down with a soft, dry cloth. Avoid using aggressive cleansers or abrasive chemicals since they can harm the table’s polish. Use a mild soap and water mixture to get rid of tough stains or grime, but make sure to dry the table completely afterward.

Avoid Direct Sunlight and Extreme Temperatures

Keeping your antique table out of direct sunlight and extremely hot or cold conditions is another essential aspect of its maintenance. Extreme temperatures can cause the wood to bend or break, while sunlight can fade or discolour the table’s polish over time. If at all possible, maintain your antique table in a space with stable humidity and temperature levels and cover it with shutters or drapes to keep off direct sunlight. If you need to relocate the table, make sure to do it safely and keep it away from places where it will be subjected to high humidity or temperatures.

Use Proper Cleaning Products and Techniques

Use the proper cleaning supplies and methods while cleaning your antique table to prevent harming the wood or finish. To prevent stripping the finish or scratching the table’s surface, stay away from using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning. Instead, use a soft cloth or brush to gently remove dust and dirt, and consider using a specialised wood cleaner or polish designed for antique furniture. Before employing a new cleaning product over the full surface of the table, test it first on a small, discrete part of the surface.

Consider Professional Restoration and Maintenance

It would be wise to seek the help of a professional if your antique table requires more intensive maintenance or restoration. Find a trustworthy antique furniture restorer who is familiar with the type of table you have and who can offer references or examples of their prior work. To keep your table looking its finest for many years to come, they may assist with damage repair, finish restoration, and routine maintenance. Keep in mind that paying for professional maintenance now might save you money and maintain the value of your antique table over time.

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