The Robbins Hunter Museum proudly displays a pair of card tables from one of the finest cabinet shops in the country, that of Samuel McIntire of Salem, Massachusetts. McIntire, 1757-1811, was born in Salem and began as a woodcarver who developed into an architect. He built houses for prominent citizens such as Elias Hasket Derby, America’s first millionaire, and furnished them with some of his own furniture creations and sculpture. In 2011, a carved mahogany side chair made for Derby and attributed to McIntire brought $662,500 at auction, setting a world record for Federal furniture.
The pair in the collection of Robbins Hunter Museum are made of a fine mahogany, with a serpentine front and reeded legs below carved foliage. The snowflake stamping on the apron area of the legs as well as the central basket of fruit are signatures of Samuel McIntire. According to the museum’s records, the pair of tables were found by Robbins Hunter in Richland County, Ohio.
For many years, one of the tables was in serious need of restoration as the hinging mechanism that connected the top had broken out and was partially lost. During the winter of 2017, the table was “admitted to surgery” at a fine repair shop. The “furniture doctor” completed a masterful restoration and the table has returned to its place in the Ladies’ Parlor, looking fit and ready for another 200 years.
Hunter was successful in tracking down many pairs of card tables, a form of which he was particularly fond. Card tables are generally small (30-36” square) with a folding leaf that opens with a swing leg support. In the nineteenth century, fine homes would have had several pairs to use for actually playing cards, intimate suppers, Hunter collected the form, in addition to his interest in mirrors, lighting, and clocks.
On your next visit to the museum, be sure to take notice of these two proud pieces of furniture from one of America’s finest cabinet shops.