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Antiques Considered - September 3, 2014

Many years ago a family inherited this Victorian marbletop table, which they had cut down to make into a contemporary coffee table.  The wood is walnut, and the marble is in excellent condition.  The finish is original.  It is now 16 inches in height.

This table dates from the 1850s, and is typical of the High Victorian style of that period.  The oval top with the ogee rim is another indication of its age, and by looking on the bottoms of the legs, one might find that it once had casters.

Unfortunately, much of the value of this piece has been lost in the cutting down of its size.  The overall market for Victorian furniture is low at the present time, but by shortening the table, the possibility of ever selling it to a purist has ceased to exist.  In its original condition today the table would be worth $350., but cut down the value drops off to $150.

In almost every such case I have encountered, the removed legs have been discarded, thus eliminating the possibility of ever returning it, even in a restored state, to its intended appearance and function.  In the 1940a and 1960s cutting down of Victorian parlor tables was in fashion, and I have seen numerous ones in their transmogrified condition.  In no case has so-doing enhanced the value.

Most likely, this table was part of a parlor suite of two end tables and a larger sofa table, this being one of the end tables.  The suite would have included a large settee, a gentleman’s chair, lady’s chair and perhaps four side chairs.

As modern entertaining no longer encompasses the concept of calling at a friend’s house on a Sunday afternoon to sit in the parlor and share a cup of tea, the market for these types of antique furnishings has evaporated.  Ironically, we find that the people most interested in acquiring them are the young, leading perhaps to the prospect of a rejuvenated market to come.

Henry Lane Hull and his wife Lisa operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie duPont Hwy. in Wicomico Church, VA.  Write to him at P. O. Box 35, Wicomico Church, VA 22579 or e-mail questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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