Pair of Card Tables
The large number of surviving card tables from the Federal period indicates the popularity of this furniture item during the Otises’ time. Card tables were often made in pairs and were created in several styles including square, circular, tripod and pedestal tables. The tables displayed in the Otis parlor are designed with a neoclassical grace and simplicity that is shared with the other furnishings of the room. These lightweight tables would have been moved to the room’s perimeter when not in use. When in this role, card tables often served as pier or side tables.
The growth of fortunes and the decline in influence of Protestant morality led to great consumerism during the Federal period in America. The quantity and variety of American-made goods grew markedly. This phenomenon can be attributed, in part, to the increase in genteel rituals taking place in American homes at the time and the need for specialized furniture forms. Card games were very popular in England during the 18th century and this amusement quickly spread to the colonies. In addition to card playing, these tables were used for other activities such as serving tea.
Probably Newport, R.I., 1790-1805