Next to the chair, the table is perhaps the oldest form of furniture. Certainly, it is one of the most versatile with styles ranging from delicate and mobile to massive and ceremonial. Tables are often key specimens of a particular style, era, or furniture designer.
Antique Table Styles
There are primarily two categories of antique tables: accent tables and dining tables. The following list includes the most common types of antique tables that you are likely to encounter in the collectibles world. Though the forms may date back centuries, most remain common today and can be found in both antique and modern versions.
Butler's table: This type of accent table originated as a light, portable type of furniture during the 18th century. It consists of a tray and a folding stand. It is the antique version of the current-day TV tray table.
Butterfly table: This drop-leaf, gate-leg table is a smaller table used for dining that likely developed in America at the turn of the 18th century. The term "butterfly" refers to the wing-shaped braces that hold the leaves up when they are in use.
Console or pier table: A console table has one plain, straight side that is placed up against a wall. The other side of the table can be quite ornate. Console or pier tables of the late 17th century were accent tables that were attached to the wall, which were visually reminiscent of a pier that juts out from one end of land into the water.
Demilune table: The name of this accent table refers to its shape. Demilune means "half-moon" in French. This table is shaped like a semicircle or has a leaf that drops down to form a full circle when raised. These tables were stored against a wall and were moved into the room for serving as needed.
Gate-leg table: This useful drop-leaf dining table has legs that swing out (like a gate) to support leaves when a larger table is needed. Often used in smaller settings, these tables can be stored against a wall and used as accent tables when they are not being used for dining.
Guéridon table: These mid-17th century French small tables were originally used as candle stands, many times in pairs, and often with columnar or bodily figure pedestals. They usually have a circular or oval tray-like top. The term "gueridon" was a word describing the African servants of the time, which were also sometimes used as the bodily figures in the table design.
Hutch table: Often called chair tables, the tops flip up and lock so that the tabletop is the seat back and the base is the seat. The base often has a drawer for storage, thus the reference to "hutch" in its name. These dining tables dated back to the Middle Ages, though this form was perfected in the early 1600s and remained popular in England and America through the early 19th century as space-saving, multi-purpose furniture.
Kang table: This type of long, low accent table can be used as a modern cocktail table. Dating back to the Ming dynasty of the 1300s, they were originally used in China on a kang or a raised platform for sleeping or relaxing.
Pembroke table: A Pembroke table is a small accent table that is portable with small leaves that fold down on each side. Originally dating to mid-1700s England, these tables are usually rectangular with rounded edges. The petite leaves allow for versatility in use as an end table or a small serving table when they are raised.
Tea table: Tea accent tables were used for tea presentation at a time when tea was an expensive commodity prior to the American Revolution. These small, square tables were stored out of the way and then moved to the center of the room when it was time for tea service.
Piecrust table: Piecrust accent tables usually have three legs and round tops. The wood along the edge of the top is crimped in a decorative way, resembling a pie crust. Piecrust tables were popular during the Queen Anne and Chippendale periods and often used to serve tea.
Trestle table: This type of table dates back to the Middle Ages. They have rectangular tops sitting on two or more trestles. At the turn of the 20th century, there was a resurgence of this style during the American Arts and Crafts Movement. These tables are common today in farmhouse-style or country kitchen-style rooms.