You will find that some of the most popular pieces are formal antique dining tables when you go to the antique furniture shop to buy antique furniture. We all need one of them, that’s what makes dining tables one of antique furniture’s most desired pieces.
It can be a little complicated to buy an antique dining table, as quality and costs vary greatly. The most important pricing elements are: originality, length, width, time, used wood quality and colour. As a general rule, the higher the quality of the wood used, the earlier the dining table was built. Tables that still have all the original leaves are rare and much more valuable than those with leaves of replacement.
Width is important, there should be adequate room in the center of the table when people sit opposite each other. Look for 48-inch or more width tables. One that is only 42 inches deep would be worth less than half that of a 48 inches deep identical table. The length is also important, with tables that are very much sought after for 10 or more people.
The earliest type of dining table that still exists today is the middle-age trestle table. The top was made of long wooden planks resting on chaffs so that the tables could be dismantled and moved to the side of the hall whenever space was needed for other than dining activities.
During the medieval period, all guests dined together in the great hall, together with the host and hostess of the house who were usually sitting at a smaller table on a dais. It was customary for the master and his family to eat in a separate room by the mid-sixteenth century and thus developed the need for more stationary tables. Since the 19th century, the refectory table is a name given to these early stationary tables. Though the styles were different, all over Europe these tables were fashionable.
Gate-leg dining tables became popular in the mid-seventeenth century, with side panels that could be folded down when the table was not being used. These tables were often quite large in the earlier years-sometimes up to a diameter of eight or nine feet. However, as time went by, it became fashionable to use many smaller tables instead of one big one, so they became smaller.
From the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century the most expensive dining tables date. They vary in length between two and four pedestals and are usually rectangular in shape. For additional leaves, the pedestals act as supports and also control how many leaves can be added. The longer the length of a table, the more pedestals a table has and therefore the more desirable the table is. An example would be an antique double pedestal table dating back to the 1790s… the table would have a fixed leaf on each pedestal and could take an additional leaf with the support of stretchers and clips. A table like this would have a maximum length of about eight feet in length.
Another important element in making a very desirable and expensive antique dining table from this period is the quality of the wood used and the usefulness of the table. The extra pedestals can extend up to twenty feet in length. Usually we see extended tables made of mahogany, a durable, strong and attractive wood.
There were different characteristics in all periods of antique furniture. Early ancient Georgian and Victorian dining tables had pull-out mechanisms… a relatively simple construction that extends the table and allows for the insertion of additional leaves by opening the ends. Later, ancient Victorian dining tables were built using wind out mechanisms to allow the tables to be opened using a winding handle. Many of those ancient dining tables still exist today, are of superb quality and many still have their original leaves.
Buying antique dining tables is an important topic and one that I will address in later posts again in more detail, but for an overview of the topic, I hope this post will give you some insight whenever you buy antique furniture.