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Octagonal Library Table

New York c. 1845-50

Library tables became increasingly popular during the second quarter of the nineteenth century, and this extraordinary table is one of a group of octagonal examples that were probably made in New York about 1845 50. The most elaborate of these tables, which is now installed in The American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, came from the library of the Frederick Deming House in Newburgh, NY. That table uniquely features an unusually elaborate base and an inset circular specimen marble top, which may be original or may have been added by a later owner who was in the marble trade. All of the other tables in this group are of essentially the same form, although they vary slightly both in size and in the exact program of Gothic decoration.

Just as earlier cabinetmakers sought inspiration from the design books and popular literature being published in London and Paris, it is likely that the as yet-unknown designer of these tables referred to A. W. N. Pugin’s Gothic Furniture in the Style of the 15th Century (1835), which quickly became a standard source for work in this manner.

All but The Metropolitan Museum table seem to have been supplied with the same pieced octagonal wooden top, originally covered with baize or felt.