Thursday, July 28, 2016


I received an email from Restoration Hardware featuring their "reclaimed wood" (read: splinters) trestle table and I though that I would do a quick simple post contrasting their table with my trestle table. But then realized that I needed to include a short history of medieval trestle tables, being that they were the first real tables, which then sent me down the rabbit hole of Google looking for photos and descriptions of Medieval and Renaissance here goes:
We all know that the Medieval Period in European history was pretty rough. There were the Nobles, Lords, Knights (not really in very shiny armor) and romantic ladies watching jousting tournaments. The reality of daily existence was actually very bleak. (Remember that the kings moved from castle to castle as each one became exceedingly filthy--and remember, people bathed only a very few times a year!!) The castles were working enclaves with the nobleman surrounded by his knights, and "underlings". The "Great Hall" of the Castle was a multipurpose space where much of the work of the Lord was carried out, including the common meal. The tables used to seat the vassals were assembled and disassembled before and after the main meal and were pushed out of the way when not in use. These table were roughly constructed of two or more saw horse-type pedestals surmounted by a long single board plank top.

The above table dates to c. 1520 and is a bit later than the earliest tables, but is representative of the saw horse/trestle form.

The massive oak timbers have ensured its survival. This table was one of the original furnishings of "Sutton Place" Manor and is in surprisingly great condition with wonderful deep patina and soul.
The table would be joined by a pair of benches of similar form, here is one example

(Just a quick note--Being raised in Mexico and living in Spain for seven years gave me a passion for these ancient pieces--to touch them and imagine what they have witnessed, the secrets they have overheard brings the past intimately into the my present.)
The next table represents a small leap in the development of trestle table--the table has become a bit more permanent and lighter but still easily disassembled. These are English examples, but the 

forms were common to most of Europe.
In the 17th and early 18th centuries the table became more streamlined as shown in the next few examples

And one of my favorites, this little rustic trestle table

This last example (above) is my absolute favorite (the Basque Country is a little slice of heaven)--it is a rare Basque, probably French, perhaps Spanish, 17th c. walnut and forged iron trestle table detailed with chip carved walnut supports and a single molded plank top.
There are many, many examples of antique trestle tables--I have pulled these few from 1stdibs and from Axel Vervoordt is a great reference for furnishings of this period.

Now to get to my original intention: RH's table vs. my table. 

After looking at the 16th through 18th century authentic tables, doesn't this one seem boring and stiff? Those pedestal are too chunky, this is supposed to represent an 18th c. style, but it lacks the grace of 18th c. pieces. It's more like a 16th c. table without the mystery.
Now here's my (probably made in Italy) 20th c. version of a trestle table

The table still does not have the grace of a period table, but the columns end supports are more refined and "finished" than the RH table. I also love that the designer of this table chose to cant its corners--no more bruised hips. In this photo the table is paired with a French bench dating to the late 18th/early 19th c. Now I'm pairing the table with a pair of Spanish Revival early 20th c. forged iron and walnut trestle benches (I really need to take better photos of these benches) which are highly unusual in their own right.

Newer examples of the trestle table include mid-century chrome and glass tables

And this Milo Baughman campaign style desk

The humble saw horse never imagined that it would become a testament to the timelessness of great design in its most minimalist form.

I have been watching the Democratic Convention and listening to the amazing men and women who have spoken on behalf of Hillary. Of course, President Obama's speech was exactly what our nation needed to hear, but Cory Booker's words opened another page in history. Now it's up to us to work to prevent The Supreme Narcissist from being elected.

Blessing for our nation.

Mary & Jones & Cole 

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