A superlative New York City or New Jersey Neoclassical mahogany and inlaid five-legged games table, about 1795-1815

A superlative New York City or New Jersey Neoclassical mahogany and inlaid five-legged games or card table, about 1800-1810, with outstanding patination. This very fine games table radiates with a very early surface, which is rich with deep patination, and excellent color, with warm amber hues. Notably, the graceful three-line inlays on the tables’ skirt are punctuated by elliptical floral reserves which appear at the top of each leg stile, constructed in a fashion that is frequently associated with the cabinet-shops of Richard and Michael Allison, New York City, about 1795-1810

(For a larger image, simply click on the photograph)

This quintessential Neoclassical card table represents the very best, in terms of form and superior condition in a relatively small grouping of Federal card tables from Neoclassical New York City, or New Jersey


Please feel free to contact C. Lyman McCallum, Jr. personally for additional details. Phone 1-803-834-3787 or email via: chicoraclm@msn.com

CONDITION: Overall, this very fine card table retains a deep, and very rich and historic shellac surface, presumed to be the original finish in areas, particularly in the recesses appearing on the tables’ skirt. Largely “unsullied” from time, this table has a single family history {verbal} which may very well account for the tables’  remarkable survival. This table exhibits no serious deleterious condition issues, other than those which would fall into the category of “maintenance”. The delicate legs of this table have no repairs, with the exception of the “ankle-banding”, which more than likely, has some replacements as is typical on American Neoclassical tables: any veneer {s} that is found  close to the floor was prone to damage.  Although not scientifically tested, the current shellac surfaces are consistent with the finish practices of Federal America. The early surface which appears on this table is comprised of organic materials; this existing finish is a treatment which would have been consistent with cabinet-shops on both sides of the Atlantic.

PROVENANCE: Acquired privately from a New York estate of note, which will be provided to the purchaser.

DIMENSIONS: Height: 29 1/2″, Width: 36″, Depth: 17 1/2″.

MATERIALS: Mahogany, mahogany veneers, various light-colored inlays, Eastern white pine, tulip poplar, and brass.

NOTES/ABSTRACT: For both the well-intended neophyte of antiques and decorative arts, to the advanced scholar, associating any antique to a place of origin, or assigning it to a single person {or group of individuals. i.e. “authorship” } is an issue that should be approached very cautiously. “Assume nothing”. Casual impromptu associations of any antique to a point of origin very often leads to erroneous attributions and sweeping attributions of better tarnish the reputation antiques should not be made without the presence of a signature, a mark of any sort, significant history, be it oral or written, can often lead to disastrous outcomes flagrant attributions of any piece of antique furniture should be approach cautiously, this chest is attributed to Michael Allison (American 1773-1855) based on form, style, and most especially, the distinctive inlay. Michael Allison’s New York City address on Vesey Street in lower Manhattan was only doors away from Duncan Phyfe’s workshop, (1768-1854), the Scottish born master whose work dominated the trade above all others. Both Michael and Richard Allison’s work is often compared with his contemporaries, such as Duncan Phyfe.

THE CABINET-SHOP OF MICHAEL AND RICHARD ALLISON: The furniture made by The New York City cabinet-shop of Michael and Richard Allison is quite distinctive, and it is probably better documented than that of any other New York cabinetmakers. Historical records clearly indicate that there were over two-hundred cabinet-shops in operation during America’s golden age of Neoclassicism (1795-1820). The Allison brother’s cabinet-shop (Richard left the partnership in 1814) were one of the most prolific furniture makers in New York City during the American Federal Era (1785-1820) at the time. “The New York State Museum” in Albany has nine pieces by Michael and three by Richard.

SHOWN ABOVE: Detail of the upper-drawer inlay on a New York City mahogany and inlaid bureau, or chest of drawers, which bears the label of Michael Allison, about 1800.

SHOWN ABOVE: A copy of an engraving from “The London Cabinet Makers’ Union Book of Prices”, which show eleven different shapes of pier, Pembroke, and card table tops. Figure “E” and “D” are the designs used by the cabinetmaker who constructed this table, a fact which strongly suggests that he either had access to this publication, or was familiar with it by the transmission of styles from cabinet-shops along the Eastern Seaboard


  1. “Symbolism and Floral Inlay”, The Magazine Antiques, by Deanne Levinson.

            2) “The Work of Many Hands: Card Tables in Federal America 1790-1820” by B                          Benjamin A. Hewitt, Patricia E. Kane, and Gerald W. R. Ward, published by                          “Yale University Art Gallery”, 1982. “Assume Nothing”, by Robert Weinhagen.

If you are interested in acquiring this table, or if you would simply like additional information about it, please feel to contact C. Lyman McCallum, Jr. personally at 1~803~834~3787 or simply email us at chicoraclm@msn.com

 As always, your inquiries are welcomed!