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Queen Anne Card & Game Tables

Tables had developed greatly in the era of Queen Anne furniture, and card tables had come to cater for the overfed and under-employed gamesters who attempted to overcome the tedium of idle life to the tune of golden guineas lost and fortunes weakened to decay.

Earlier forms of games and card tables, with gate leg action, were an untidy mess of legs and stretchers which the players would be forever getting their legs tangled up in. The new type was hinged half-way down the side and was opened with a concertina action whereby when the table was both open or closed there was a leg at each corner. When the concertina frame had been extended, the top could be folded down onto it to reveal a baize playing service with handy wells for coin storage as well as candlestick holes.

Games Table
Games Table, 1720-40.
Mahogany, carved, veneered, and inlaid with other woods.
This table is fitted both as a card table and for the games of chess and backgammon. Under the second flap, the table is covered with baize.

In the 1700s card playing was considered a desirable social skill and constituted the main evening activity when lighting was often too poor to allow for reading after dark. Cards were used for instruction in a wide range of subjects and knowledge of the rules of fashionable games was taught in the mid-18th century by gaming masters. George II and Queen Caroline were dedicated card players, the king's favourite game was "commerce" and the queen's "quadrille".

Game and cards tables were important items of furnishings and would have been folded up and kept as a side table for much of the time, to be brought out for use when guests were entertained or for family amusements. Four players could comfortably sit with their legs under the table and play cards without revealing their hands to each other.

Queen Anne Folding Card Table
Queen Anne Folding Card Table, circa 1710.
Walnut, carved and veneered on oak.

Many card tables, like the picture above, were designed to fold in half for storage against the wall. They had supportive corner cabriole legs thus doing away with the need for stretchers between the legs and creating more room for the seated players. The small sunken well on each side of the table could house the coins won by each player.

The design and form of games tables changed very little from around 1711 to 1750.

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