Further on the Pembroke table

It could be said axiomatic that, for furniture at least, the maintenance and continued production of a particular type of piece betokens its continued practical use. So with the Pembroke table. Note the pictured example, late George III period, and dateable to about 1790.  A generation later than the Pembroke table illustrated in yesterday’s blog, and, with its banding a slightly more formal piece of furniture, it is also minus the elaborate cross stretcher of those tables of a generation before.

By this point, the Pembroke table had, pardon the expression, come out of the closet. Banded, inlaid, often painted and frequently of woods even more exotic than mahogany, the table becomes a front of house piece, put to whatever use a small table might be used in a public place. Note, however, that the napery drawer is still present, so one might surmise its at least occasional use for the service of some sort of consumable- probably tea. The late Georgian example illustrated was of a size that it could conveniently support a tea service, with its top when completely open, of an oval size that would support a silver tray of corresponding perimeter. At the risk of putting my gentle blogophiles off their afternoon tea, I must say that, despite its more polite use, the napery contained in the table might not have been any cleaner than it had been in times past. So much for the good old days.

Continuing in recognizable form, here is another example from yet later, this time of the Regency period and dating to about 1810.  Again, banding, but rosewood, that favorite of all Regency period exotic woods. And, kind of a plus size. The ubiquitous napery drawer signifying the link with food service, but the plus size of the table, opening to a very wide 47” with both leaves raised, argues for its use less for the service of breakfast for one, or a tea for several, but as a surface for a heavier repast, probably for two. And so the later period Pembroke tables are frequently termed, then, ‘Supper tables’.

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