TO ANTIQUE DINING TABLES AND THEIR HISTORY
The earliest surviving type of dining table is the trestle
table used in the middle Ages. Since the top was made from
long wooden planks resting on trestles, such antique dining tables could be
dismantled and moved to the side of the hall when space was
needed for other activities.
In medieval times, the assembled company ate together in the
great hall, with the master and mistress of the house
usually seated at a smaller table raised on a dais. By the
mid-16th century, however, it had become more common for the
master and his family to eat in a separate room, and more
permanent tables evolved. The term refectory table has been
applied to these early "solid" tables since the
19th century. Styles varied, but such tables were popular
all over Europe.
mid-17th century antique gate-leg dining tables, which had
flaps that could be folded down when the table was not in use
became popular for dining. Initially, these tables were often
quite large - up to 8 feet in diameter - but as time went by
and it became fashionable to use several small tables rather
than one large one, they became smaller.
rectangular top of most antique refectory dining tables
consists of two or three planks and should always have the
good patina that comes age and use. Check that it is not a
late copy made from old floorboards - there should be signs of
filled-in holes if it is.
dowels in an old table should stand out from the surface, due
to shrinkage over the centuries.
legs should show the expected uneven wear, where the edges
have been rounded and are no longer as sharp as when the table
was first made. I individual legs do not show the proper
wear, they have likely been replaced -- devaluing the table.