Think of a wedding and you can imagine the original primary function of antique tables. Banquets were the main ceremonies of a wealthy household and the dining room was the Great Hall. The high table was for the guests of honor, including the owner of the home and his family. Other members of the household, including some attendants, would sit at side tables. The servants would eat and dine elsewhere. The early trestle tables were designed to be taken apart and removed to make way for dancing and entertainment. In the 1500s, draw-leaf tables were designed to accommodate a changing number of diners, allowing the owner to conserve space if there were fewer guests, or to quickly double the table's size if more guests arrived. Rather than an added leaf, which slightly increased the size, the original design was to support a large tabletop laid over the drawn-back leaves. Refectory tables originated in monasteries and often were ornately designed. Walnut and oak were the early popular woods being both strong and durable. As the 1600s progressed, tables became lighter with columned legs and many finished with wood-turning techniques. As time went by, the great hall was replaced by smaller dining rooms as the houses decreased in size to accommodate a new middle class.
There were no longer a few immensely wealthy landowners surrounded by masses of poor, but commercially successful classes who could affort their own modest homes and who dined in small rooms. Tables began to appear to satisfy different functions, such as the credence table where food was kept before it was served, work tables that included drawers, and writing tables including drum tables. More and more as space became limited, imaginative designs were created, including gateleg tables and dropleaf tables. Because the table was primarily a dining device, it was combined with entertainment and social assemblies, with the result that tables became elaborately decorated pieces of furniture, providing the host with the opportunity to impress his visitors with his status, wealth, and power. Other kinds of work tables included, the sewing table and the student's desk, which was a combination of table, chair, stool, and storage. Entertainment and social status furniture included the console table, the sofa table, the modern day coffee table, side tables, and end tables. After the meal, guests could retire to many varieties of games tables, and at the end of the day the host and hostess might retire to the bedroom to meditate before the dressing table.
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