The first time I visited Keck Jackson’s Eighteenth Century Shop in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, I felt like I’d walked into the American Colonial period. Not only was the shop’s extraordinary furniture, all handmade by Mr. Jackson, a feast for my eyes, but the beeswax polish that Mr. Jackson uses on each piece produces an exquisite scent.
The reproduction tea table contains a rare piece of walnut - the table top is a single 17-inch wide board. Because it's difficult to find walnut boards of that width, the original table top was composed of two boards.
This particular table top is called a "tray top" because of the raised molding that frames the table's surface the same way a frame surrounds a picture.
In the photo below as well as in the article's first photograph, note that the table’s skirt contains handsome scallops while cabriole legs with pad feet support the table. The photo below also provides a side view of the raised molding that frames the table's top.
Mr. Jackson explained that in Colonial times, the tea table was a serving piece upon which a fine tea service would be placed along with whatever foods were being served. When not in use, tea tables were placed on the side of a room or in a hall until it was time to serve tea. At the appropriate time in the afternoon, the tea table was moved to a prominent part of a room.
Tea tables were found in the homes of the affluent and used in more formal settings. Less affluent colonists would not have been able to purchase such finely crafted tables.
Mr. Jackson has been crafting authentic copies of 18th century furniture since 1980. Each piece is handmade using a full assortment of furniture making tools from the 1700s, including 80 antique molding planes. Mr. Jackson uses the same materials in his reproduction furniture that were used in the originals. Each piece of his furniture is historically accurate and requires many hours of work before it’s completed, but as you can see from the photographs, the wait is well worth it.
All photographs ©2014 Cynthia Howerter
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