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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Unknown, American, Boston, Massachusetts

Work Table
About 1820
Rosewood veneer, mahogany, chestnut
Gift of Mrs. William Dexter; F.965.90.22


Work tables, or “pouch tables,” as they were sometimes called, were fitted with fabric bags (this one is a reproduction) designed to store a woman’s unfinished needlework. As seen here, the bag is typically suspended from the lower drawer, which is open in the center and bordered with compartments for thread and other sewing implements. Like most examples, this one is fit with casters, so that the table could be moved easily to where the user was seated. This highly specialized, elegant furniture form suggests the social, as well as the practical, importance of a woman’s accomplishments with a needle in early-nineteenth-century America. Often women of a household would gather in a sitting room and collectively work on needlework, with such a table forming the center of their activities and interactions. George Ticknor purchased this table for his wife, Anna Eliot, perhaps soon after their marriage in 1821. Like other neoclassical furnishings from Ticknor’s home, it is a sophisticated adaptation of French-inspired neoclassical design, meticulously crafted with the finest materials available.

Last Updated: 5/6/09