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Dining Table

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Dining Table

Maker: Charles F. Hobe (active New York, New York, 1839-1864 or 1865)

Date: 1844-1846
Medium: Mahogany, black walnut, ash, eastern white pine, metal
Overall: 32 x 54in. (81.3 x 137.2cm)
Signed: Stamped on extension mechanism: "HOBE'S PATENT N.Y."
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Erving Pruyn
Object number: 60.171.a-d
Label Text
As the number of cabinetmakers and furniture manufacturers increased during the nineteenth century, the craft became more specialized. Craftsmen often chose to master one particular furniture form; Charles Hobe, for example, patented and sold extension tables.

The two sections of this table can be pulled apart, and table leaves can be inserted to lengthen the table. Inside the pedestal base, an additional leg is hidden. When the table is expanded, the leg becomes visible and supports the center of the table.

Text Entries

This massive table is a subtle example of the Gothic revival style. The round top, with an applied band of ripple molding on its skirt, is supported by a four-sided, columnar pedestal. Each side of the central support features a double-arch pattern—a trefoil-topped arch surrounded by an ogee arch-—flanked by engaged columns. Four legs extend from the bottom of the base and terminate in hexagonal feet with quatrefoil ornamentation.

The extension mechanism on this table consists of metal slides incorporated within wooden supports and is stamped “Hobe’s Patent N.Y” in several places. Charles F. Hobe, cabinetmaker, appears in New York City directories beginning in 1839. After leaving his Grand Street shop address, he established a business on Broadway, where it remained in operation until 1868.(1) Hobe placed an advertisement for his “Patent Metalic [sic] Slide Extension Dining Tables” in the New-York Mercantile Registerin 1848 (fig. 26).(2) The pedestal of the MWPI table differs from the table Hobe illustrated in his advertisement in that the MWPI pedestal divides as the table is separated. An octagonal leg, housed in the hollow space of the pedestal when the table is closed, supports the middle of the table when it is extended.

Hobe advertised that his patented mechanism allowed the table to function with ease, even when used “in the hottest parlor . . . or in a damp place,” and, therefore, he recommended his tables “for the use of steamboats.” Hobe added that he manufactured “all desirable forms and patterns.”(3)

The design of the MWPI table was previously attributed to Richard Upjohn. Because the table shares a provenance with the library furniture designed by Upjohn for Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kelly (see cat. no. 19),(4) and has elements that recall the Gothic characteristics Upjohn incorporated into the stairwell of the Kelly residence, this attribution has seemed plausible. However, Upjohn’s characteristically rigorous application of an architecturally accurate Gothic vocabulary is absent, and the employment of the motifs seems more in keeping with the types of devices a decorator would use. In addition, the use of veneers on some sections of the table does not correspond to Upjohn’s belief in honest construction. Hobe may have relied on a cabinetmaker’s handbook for the design, or perhaps he built the table according to a client’s request.

Essay by Anna Tobin D'Ambrosio and Judith S. Hull

1. Hobe is first listed in New York directories in 1839-40 as a cabinetmaker. His first business address, 140 Grand, does not appear until 1842-43. Between 1845 and 1847 Hobe relocated his shop to 443 Broadway. By 1853 his shop was at 484 Broadway, where it remained until ca. 1865. In the early 1850s Charles F. Hobe worked with his son Charles J. Hobe; the last listing for Charles F. Hobe and “C. F. Hobe & Son, Tables” is 1864-65. Charles]. Hobe, “cabinetmaker manufacturer of Hobe’s patent premium extension tables,“ continued to be listed through 1868-69.

2. T. Morehead, New-York Mercantile Register for 1848-49, Containing the Cards of the Principal Business Establishments, Including Hotels and Public Institutions in New-York City (New York: John P. Prall), p. 93.

3. New-York Mercantile Register, p. 93.

4. A descendant of the Kelly family, Mrs. Erving C. Pruyn, gave the library suite and the pedestal table to MWPI. Family tradition held that Upjohn designed all of the pieces.