Tara Gleason Chicirda, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Card Table, Attributed to the Anthony Hay Shop, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1755-1770, Mahogany and yellow pine, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Museum Purchase, 1932-12
Card Table,William King, Jr., Georgetown, District of Columbia, ca. 1818, Mahogany, cherry, black walnut, white pine, and yellow pine, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Museum Purchase 1994-106
Card Table, Attributed to John Elliott, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ca. 1765, Mahogany, white pine, and oak, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Hennage, 2020-152
Card Table, Attributed to Joseph True and possibly Samuel Gragg, Boston and Salem, Massachusetts, 1810-1820, Mahogany, birch, maple, white pine, and cherry, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Museum Purchase, 1971-382, 1
An illustrated Zoom presentation by Tara Gleason Chicrida, Curator of Furniture, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, VA. The games people play! Long before we had technology to entertain us including the phonograph, radio, movies, television, video games, computers, and cell phones, Americans played cards in the parlors, back rooms, and front porches of their homes. Following English and Continental customs, 18th and early 19th century American men and women of all ages at all levels of society played cards in their domestic and public spaces. This had not always been the case; card playing’s links to gambling and drunkenness led to 17th century religious and civil restrictions against it. This is why one never sees 17th century gaming tables.
While the associated vices remained, the 18th century lifting of taboos fueled a growth in card playing. Fashion, conspicuous consumption, and a desire for comfort are not new. Among the upper classes, a new specialized form of furniture evolved for the popular pastime. Card tables reflected both particular games and overall changes in design, form, function, and fashions. Like much 18th century furniture, card tables served multiple functions. Portable and malleable, card tables could be pier tables at rest, breakfast, side, or tea tables when open. Rich families usually owned multiple card tables, often in pairs. Thomas Jefferson’s White House had five in 1809. Early Americans had no idea what the dawn of technology would ultimately bring. Thankfully many card tables survive to remind us of these convivial social interactions. We will explore it all during Tara Gleason’s Zoom-only lecture May 17, 2022, at 6:30 pm, Pacific time.