Tea Table

Artist/maker unknown, American

Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America




28 x 35 1/8 inches (71.1 x 89.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

* Gallery 287, American Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of the McNeil Americana Collection, 1995

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Tea tables with scalloped and molded "piecrust" edges were designed for the genteel occasion of tea drinking, but were also known to be used for casual, daily activities such as writing letters and reading books. For convenience and versatility, they were constructed with spindled "birdcage" mechanisms underneath that enabled the tops to both rotate and flip into a vertical position. When not in use, a table could be placed flat against a wall. Colonial Philadelphians preferred round tables to rectangular ones and the city's highly skilled cabinetmakers and specialty carvers excelled at producing sumptuous examples.

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