vintage dining table - need help identifying period/era/style/woo

MyrnaCubebNovember 12, 2011

So glad to have found you guys here on this corner of the web!

This dining table was a cheap CL find, isn't in the best cosmetic shape (but is structurally sound), and I love the overall look of it. Not knowing a thing about antique furniture or historical design in general, I'm hoping for some help in figuring out the era/period/style/wood, etc. of this particular table.

There are two maker's mark tag thingamajigs, one showing it was made by THE CHATTANOOGA FURNITURE CO., the other too peeled off to make anything out (see pics, links below). The table base has got incredibly heavy legs with flat-curvy stretchers and separates into two L shapes. The tabletop has short metal dowels that sink down into simple holes in the two leg sections, and the heft of the tabletop's weight keeps it from moving much once settled properly onto the legs. I've included links to pics of all this stuff (with the assistance, you'll notice, of my zombie cat, Hopi).

It's not an example of especially intricate craftsmanship compared to some vintage pieces I've seen, so I'm not sure it was ever worth a lot of $, but I find its look lively and charming. It's way more interesting than any dining table we've ever had before!

Questions...

>> What period/era would this style of furniture fit into?

>> Any guesses on how old it is?

>> What's your best guess on the kind of wood it might be, based on the supplied impossibly fuzzy phone pics of the wood grain?

>> Since no chairs came with it, what kinds of (vintage? modern?) chairs would you suggest to make a cute dining set out of it?

>> Any thoughts on easy DIY refinishing, or shall I let her remain endearingly 'distressed'?

Thanks for all help, ideas, and wild guesses!

Here is a link that might be useful: same dining table photos (on imgur.com)

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lindac

It's from the 1930's a style called sometimes colonial revival or Jacobean revival. As for the wood, it was often oak or partly oak....your table looks too fine grained to be oak, perhaps maple? Or birch? Poplar?...better pictures would help.
As for "sprucing up"...I would start by wiping well with mineral spirits and see how happy you are with that....if you want it cleaned up more....try wiping with denatured alcohol....also called shellac thinner...wipe using paper towels to clean off the gunk....and if that still doesn't clean it enough....add about 1/3 part of lacquer thinner to the alcohol.
You going to be using it in the kitchen? If so I would finish it with oil based polyurethane....and put 2 coats on the top.
Do you have the leaves for it?
As for chairs.....they would have looked like this
http://en.allexperts.com/q/Collectibles-General-Antiques-682/2009/3/Dining-table-chairs.htm
But actuelly you could use lots of styles....just be sure to get something heavy looking so they don't look dinky next to that heavy table....it's going to be a nice set!

Here is a link that might be useful: furniture periods

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 9:55AM
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calliope

Agree completely.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 4:41PM
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MyrnaCubeb

Thanks, LindaC and calliope.

LindaC, that was an awesome post full of great info!

I particularly enjoyed the article in your link; fascinating stuff... colonial revival being the [first?] 'one true American style' (reproducing our own version of borrowed historical designs). ...And, y'know, the photo you linked to looks *exactly* like a less weathered version of our dining room table (how'd you do that?!)!

I wish we had the chairs and leaves, but we have neither of 'em. But now at least I have a sense of what kinds of chairs would have come with it as a complete set.

Much appreciation for explaining how to spiffy it up, too. That's exactly the kind of info I was hoping for!

One prob: We've only now noticed the tabletop shimmies pretty dramatically from side to side (like if you lean on it with one elbow, or push on a table edge in any way), and I'm afraid this is going to be a big issue with using this as our main dining table. Anyone have any suggestions on how to cross-stabilize it?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 9:08AM
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lindac

Why is it shimmying? Because the glue joints are loose or because that pin the fits into a hole is wiggeling in the hole?
Turn the table upsidedown and wiggle it and see where that loose part is.....and reglue.
Do NOT try nailing or screwing anything that was not nailed or screwed before. Those tables were solid as the day is long.
One thing i don't see is the sliders underneath that allow the table to open.....could they be missing? In which case you will have to replace them with something....and in that case ignore my directive about screwing things into the table!
Also, be aware that the top of that table is most likely veneer and while a thick veneer, it's still a layer of wood glued down.....and I am remembering a friend who refinished a table very like yours....and that tabletop was walnut veneer. Yours may also be walnut.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 11:21AM
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calliope

No sense repairing the sliders if you don't have the leaves. They weren't mentioned. BTW.......neat cat.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 1:51PM
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lindac

But the sliders give stability to the table....if you remove the sliders and don'y replace it with "something" the table will shimmy....

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 6:16PM
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calliope

That makes sense......just doesn't have to be functional, just bracing.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 10:54PM
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David_Riverside

I am awaiting receipt of my own CL dining suite from Chattanooga Furniture Company. The company was started in 1893. It was around for a while, so a 1930s date is possible, but so is an earlier date. The company manufactured mission suites like mine when they were in fashion, but by 1914 Colonial Revival had become more popular nationally as rising nationalistic feelings linked to the trenches of WWI took hold. Chattanooga Furniture Company tracked this change and your table may also be from this period. The linked article is by the son of the company's founder and discusses the transition to colonial forms. Note that a great many companies that did not introduce effective colonial lines, like Gustav Stickley's, went bankrupt. I think that is the subtext to the article.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chat Furn Co. Article from 1915

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 3:57PM
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chibimimi

While the company may date back to the 1890s, that Jacobean-revival style is pretty definitely '30s.

David, do you have a picture of your mission set? I'd love to see it.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 6:51PM
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lazy_gardens

David - Those massive bulbs on the legs are confined to the late 20s and early 30s.

Even the real Jacobean furniture doesn't have such huge bulbous growths.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 2:21PM
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David_Riverside

Thanks for the lesson. I was researching (rather grandiose term for browsing, I'm afraid) the Chattanooga Furniture Company, and knew they were considering a more Colonial fashions by 1914. I was going with the terms provided in the discussion here, "Colonial" and "Jacobean Revival." I am concentrating on 1900-1914, and those terms were also used then. Thank you for teaching me that these terms applied to something different and specific during the Great Depression. I have also found an 1890 reference to the Company, which I had read started in 1893. Oh well. They had a display at the St. Louis World Expo, but I have yet to find any of their advertising from that period. My furniture arrives tomorrow. Hope it is nice, it has journeyed far.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 10:20PM
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