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Stretcher Table

Place Made:
Charleston or Berkeley County South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
HOA 29 3/4; WOA 51; DOA 41 1/2
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Large rectangular table: Rests on four vasiform turned legs connected to pinned stretchers; top made from one piece of mahogany. This table is the earliest known example of mahogany furniture in the South.

CONSTRUCTION: The frame and stretchers are assembled to the legs with mortise-and-tenon joints, double-pinned at each joint. The top is fixed to the frame by battens fitted to the top with sliding dovetails and through-pinned to the table frame.

The table descended in the Broughton family of Mulberry Plantation. Originally, it would have belonged to Governor Thomas Broughton (1668-1737), who in 1709 purchased over 4400 acres on the west branch of the Cooper River and completed his plantation house, Mulberry, in 1715. A prominent political figure in South Carolina history, Broughton served as a member of the colonial assembly, and as speaker of the assembly, lieutenant governor, and governor of the colony. He married Anne Johnson, the daughter of South Governor Governor Nathaniel Johnson (1644-1713), creating one of the early colony’s most important political dynasties. This is probably the “1 Large Mahogany Table” valued at 14 pounds in the 1751 probate inventory of his grandson and namesake, Thomas Broughton (1717-1751).

Based on its stretcher-based form and expensive imported material, mahogany, this table was probably used for official governmental functions in the early 18th century. The form would have been especially appropriate for someone who occupied the many high offices held by Thomas Broughton and his immediate family. In the late 17th century, the invention of the folding drop-leaf table had replaced the stretcher-based form for dining purposes. By the mid 1700s, large stretcher tables made of inexpensive woods, such as cypress or pine, were often work tables in kitchens, and with expensive woods such as mahogany or walnut, reserved for important governmental spaces, such as court rooms and council chambrs, or for sacred functions, such as altar tables in churches.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund