Antique Tables: Key Styles and How to Identify Them

Empty , clean wooden , dining table with two chairs

You've always admired that antique table in your grandmother's kitchen or that one that's featured in your favorite old daytime television program, but you've never been able to find one to bring home with you because no matter how hard you've tried, you've never been able to figure out what style to look for. If only identifying antique furniture was as easy as falling in love with its appearance was; but this list is here to help you better familiarize yourself with the different styles of antique tables out there.

Medieval Tables

Hardly any tables still remain from the Medieval period that are currently available for purchase. However, some Medieval table styles continued to be produced hundreds of years later, meaning that you can find 18th and 19th century examples of these Medieval-inspired pieces and add them to your dining room areas.

Trestle Table

Trestle tables are long, rectangular tables which have tabletops of boards that are placed onto two or more trestles. Trestles come in both 'T' and 'V' shapes and describe horizontal bars which are held up by two pairs of slanted legs. These tables are normally on the larger side and are almost always crafted out of wood.

Trestle Table

Hutch Table

You might be more familiar with china hutches and their display + cabinet arrangements, but the hutch table differs slightly in that it serves as both a table and a chair. These hutch tables are designed for their tabletops to drop from a horizontal plane to a vertical place, exposing a hidden seat underneath.

18th Century Tables

Interior design during the 18th century was a truly prolific era because there was an impressive number of new table designs being produced over the course of a relatively short period, many of which you can find at online and in-person auctions today. You'll most certainly recognize the unique silhouettes of some of this century's most famous tables, and many of you have probably drooled over pictures of these historic beauties in all of their candlelit glory.

Tea Tables

Tea time was an important social event, and this required specialized tea tables to be created. These tea tables were small, usually round-topped, and when they weren't currently in use, they could masquerade as side tables that could hold decorative vases and bouquets.

Pedestal Tables

Pedestal tables' most defining characteristic is the central post that their tabletops rest upon. These tables are most often circular, though you can sometimes find some rare examples of antique square pedestal tables.

Antique table setting

Piecrust Tables

These tables are incredibly distinctive because of their tabletop's crimped edges, which inspired the table's culinary name. Interestingly, these piecrust tables are also often considered pedestal tables as well because of the singular post that they rest upon.

Pembroke Table

These wooden tables include two drop-leafs - sections of the tabletop which are hinged to allow it to fall away from the center of the tabletop - which helped people to easily store these tables in small spaces.

Pembroke Table by Chippendale

Drum Table

Drum tables are very similar to pedestal tables in their construction, but they differ in their tabletops. This table's tabletops are thick and mirror the image of a drum or tambourine from the side.

Tilt Tables

Tilt tables are one of the most fun designs of antique tables that you'll find; the hinges at the table's center column allow the table to tilt from a horizontal plane to a vertical plane, making them take up far less space than any other tables.

Demilune Tables

The name for these tables comes from the French term for half-moon and describes the literal crescent shape of these small antique pieces of furniture. Since these tables have one side of the tabletop that is completely flat, they're particularly easy to decorate with; put them up against a wall or piece of furniture and they'll immediately fit into the space.

demi-lune table circa 1785

19th Century Tables

Many of these 18th century tables continued to be distributed during the 19th century, though the Victorian Era inspired a few new pieces of furniture which embodied the elaborate and decorative tastes of this late-19th century society.

Farmhouse Tables

Farmhouse tables greatly resemble trestle tables, though they don't always come with trestles themselves, and were well-loved by rural communities because of their easy construction and large surface area. If you're more interested in something functional rather than flashy, look for an antique farmhouse table.

Cricket Tables

Although these tables were originally created during the 16th century, they rose to popularity in the 19th century because of their compact design. Cricket tables are occasional tables which have three legs and a second tier underneath the tabletop that extends between all three of the legs; thus, you get double the space for your succulent collection or magazine rack.

Trumpet Tables

Trumpet tables are perhaps the most Victorian table around, with their phonograph trumpet style bases and rounded tabletops reflecting the overt decoration style that was in vogue. These tables' bases are often highly decorated with finishes, carvings, and sometimes even enameling. Another unique aspect of the trumpet table is that the tabletop flips up to expose a hidden compartment where you can store small goods like sewing notions or game pieces.

Early 20th Century Tables

The early 20th century responded to the overly decorative, nearly baroque, designs of the Victorian period and crafted simpler, more streamlined furniture. Pieces from this period were made out of wood, sometimes stained and sometimes painted, but were always crafted in a way to highlight the raw beauty of the woodworking at hand.

Shaker Tables

Created by the Shaker Amish community, most would say that Shaker tables are made for function rather than decoration. However, notice how the precision of each of the joints and finishes on these wooden tables speaks to these carpenters' skills.

Shaker Furniture

Arts & Crafts/Mission Tables

Although the Arts and Crafts Movement is not identical to the Mission Movement, their two table designs are often interchangeable and describe wooden furniture that had a similar goal as the Shaker community's furniture did. This furniture was created as a direct response to the Victorian people's penchant for overdecoration and resulted in clean, simple lines as well as handcrafted mortise and tenon joinery, all of which helped to create pieces that would last a long time.

The Tableau of Antique Tables Never Ends

Once you start investigating antique furniture, you quickly realize just how many styles there are, and this list just barely scratches the surface of the various niche tables that were crafted over the course of the past few hundred years. Thankfully, most antique tables that have survived are easy to identify once you know what you're looking for, and this list should set you on the right path to success.

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Antique Tables: Key Styles and How to Identify Them