Eighteenth-century households used breakfast tables for a variety of activities, from serving breakfast, tea and other light repasts to sewing, reading, and writing. Their small and compact design made them convenient and easy to store. Descendants of Martha Washington's father, John Dandridge, donated this elegant example.
Oval-top breakfast or pembroke table with inlaid decoration on four, square, tapered legs; one real and one false drawer; three-board top with double light-wood stringing at perimeter; each leaf meets the center board in a rule joint and is secured with two iron butt hinges; overhanging center board glued and screwed to frame; shims glued to underside of drop leaves; rectangular frame with single medial rail, bowed and laminated end rail, bowed drawer rail, and straight, double-railed sides: the outer rails are divided into three sections: the left-hand section is glued and nailed to the inner rail and is attached to the center section or fly rail with a five-finger hinge, the right- hand section is also glued and nailed to the inner rail; end rail veneered with figured mahogany, a rectangular splice of veneer is also glued to the ends of the side rails; the drawer front and end rail are edged with a light-wood single-string inlay; top portion of exterior sides of legs feature a rectangular panel of light-wood veneer with a chiseled quatrefoil at center and a border of chiseled crescents, all are filled with mastic or pitch, the whole is outlined in alternating light and dark triple-string inlay; alternating light and dark triple-string inlay separates the top and the lower portion of the legs, the lower portion of the legs is outlined with a single-string inlay at perimeter, the top is inverted from which descends a husk-and-dot, light-wood and mastic inlay; string inlay on legs ends at cuffs featuring alternating light and dark triple-string inlay; end rail and drawer with one circular stamped brass handle at center.
Mahogany (top, legs, veneer), pine (inner side rail, end rail, glue blocks, drawer bottom), possibly tulip poplar (outer side rails), light-wood (inlay), ebonized wood (inlay), mastic
Overall (open): 28 3/8 in. x 38 1/2 in. x 33 1/8 in. (72.07 cm x 97.79 cm x 84.14 cm)
Overall (closed): 28 3/8 in. x 18 3/8 in. x 33 1/8 in. (72.07 cm x 46.67 cm x 84.14 cm)
Gift of Maxwell K. Pribil, 1986
Scratched into the rear of the underside of top: "IIVX".
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