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Card Table

Pfeninger, Martin __Attributed to
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany, white pine, ash
HOA: 28 1/2″; WOA: 34 1/2″; DOA: 35″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Card table: Carved, inlaid, and veneered table with serpentine-shape; canted corners; hinged top with an astragal edge; conforming serpentine frieze highlighted with line inlay and veneered flame mahogany panels; inlaid and veneered chamfered legs decorated with brackets carved with frilled c-scrolls, one leg swinging as a gate support; corner glue block supports for top.

CONSTRUCTION: Frame: Inner frame: Dovetailed to end skirt on left, nailed to fly frame at right. Frame corner blocking: Replaced; originally vertical quarter-rounds. Fly frame/leg joinery: Single fly with unpinned mortise and tenon at both fly and fixed leg. Hinge form: Rounded or barrel-joint with integral stops. Side and front frame joinery/leg joinery: Solid frame shaped on exterior only, joined to legs with unpinned mortise and tenon joints, inset with panels of veneer which cross leg stiles. Top attachment: Fixed leaf attached with screws set in pockets of frame at front and sides.

STYLE: This late-Rococo style commode-shaped card table demonstrates elements which can be found on many forms in the late Rococo, early Neoclassical period: carved brackets, veneering, inlaying, commode shape. The canted corners seen on the front are also found on Charleston case pieces of this period, including the Holmes-Edwards library bookcase in the collection of the Charleston Museum.

MAKER: Martin Pfeninger (d. 1782) was amost surely born in Germany, although where and when is not known. By 1768 he was in London where he married Margaret Till in St. Martins in the Field Parish. Four years later in 1772 he was in Charleston where he was recorded performing work for cabinetmaker Thomas Elfe, and he may have gotten his start in Charleston with Elfe. He was operating his own shop by 1773 on the corner of Tradd and Meeting Streets. Pfeninger was almost immediately accepted by Charleston’s Germanic community. In July of 1776 he became a member of the German Friendly Society and appears to have attended St. John’s Lutheran Church, both of which served as the main support groups for German immigrants in Charleston. He appears to have originated the ornate pre-Revolutionary German School of Cabinetmaking in Charleston, and most likely employed the post-Revolutionary German School cabinetmakers: Jacob Saas, Charles Desel, and Henry Gesken. Pfeninger died on 20 September 1782.

WOODS: Mahogany with white pine secondary and ash fly rail and fly rail frame.

CONDITION: Right front and left rear brackets replaced.

Credit Line: