The most stunning types of tables: a piece of furniture used since the Knights of the Round Table times

Verica Sitnik
Mahogany, satinwood, rosewood, and possibly sycamore veneers, c. 1810 guéridon by French-born American cabinet maker Charles-Honoré Lannuier.

One of the oldest items used since ancient times as a surface to place things or for eating from, is named table. The term table is derived from the Latin word “tabula”, which means a board, plank, flat top piece. Tables come in a variety of materials, made in different shapes and classified into different types depending on their use. There are common types of tables, which are used for seated persons to eat and drink, such as the dining room table or coffee tables. There are also many specialized types of tables, and their purpose is usually for working on or used for playing games.

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One of the ancient civilizations that used tables was the Egyptians. Egyptian people didn’t use a table for food and drinks, but as small and elevated playing boards. Some very early tables were made by Chinese also, to pursue the arts of writing and painting. The Greeks and Romans made more frequent use of tables, for example, a piece of furniture which is very similar to the guéridon was created by the Greeks. The Romans also invented and used large tables for dining. During the Middle Ages, trestle tables were frequently used.

Here are seven important types of tables.

A reproduction of Holy grail round table, Round Table.

1.The Round Table

Maybe the most famous piece furniture in history which holds a legendary story is the Round Table. The Round Table is often associated with King Arthur in the Arthurian legend. The table was first described in 1155, and its symbolism was developed over the time, mostly connected to Arthur’s court, the Knights of the Round Table. The Round Table first appears in Wace’s Roman de Brut, which is written in Norman language. There are a lot of stories and different versions of description about the design and use of the table. One of them says the king (Arthur) possessed a round table decorated with a map of Rome; it’s possibly a description of the legendary Arthur and the knight’s table. However, the table with large tabletop in a round shape, with the capacity to hold a lot of people to eat and drink, was very popular in various European countries during the Middle Ages.

Pier table, made of mahogany, rosewood, maple, alabaster, marble, gilt and metal. The artist is unknown (creation date about 1830).Author: Forever Wiser. CC BY 2.0

2.Pier table

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A pier table, also known as a console table, is designed to be placed between two columns or between two windows. The pier table may often be semi-circular or square and is always placed against the wall. The development of the table was in Europe in the 1500s, and become very popular in England in the late 1600s. In North America, the pier table became known in the mid-1700s. The pier table often contains a mirror, usually for decoration or to hide the wall, and makes a focal point of any niche in a room.

Long table and bench, located in the Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum. Author: Dezidor. CC BY 3.0

3.Trestle table

A trestle table was very popular in the  Middle Ages. It is an item of furniture which is made in straightforward and collapsible style, mostly used as a dining table. The basic trestle design is an arrangement of a fixed leg at each corner, often made of oak accompanied by spindle-backed chairs. Today, trestle tables are still used mostly for weddings and other types of celebrations.

An example of a gateleg table. Author: Ccchambers. CC BY-SA 3.0

4.Gateleg table

The gateleg table was created in the 16th century in England. This kind of style was typically made of oak; the table top has a fixed section and two removable leaves, which can be folded down when the table is not in use.

Oval drop-leaf dining table, built 1765-1785, located at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

5.Drop-leaf table

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Drop-leaf tables date back to the late sixteenth century, found mostly in England. Examples from the Elizabethan era are still extant. These tables are often made of cherry, mahogany, walnut or other woods. Similarly to the gate-leg, they have a fixed section in the center and a leaf section on either side, which can be folded up and down. Depending on the style and size, the tables can be used for different purposes such as coffee tables, dining tables, desks or night stands.

Mahogany, satinwood, rosewood, and possibly sycamore veneers, c. 1810 guéridon by French-born American cabinet maker Charles-Honoré Lannuier.

6. Guéridon

A small table supported by sculptural mythological figures, often with a circular-top. This kind of furniture dates from the 17th century and was created in France. The mythological figures that hold the guéridon were often modeled on ancient Egyptian and African human traditional characters. Guéridon tables have humble purposes, such as a high-style decorative piece of furniture, but also to hold a candlestick or vase. Some of them are simple, some of them are made more artistic, created almost of any material from which furniture can be made.

Sev Writing table of Marie-Antoinette by Riesener (1783).Author: Jean Henri Riesener. CC BY-SA 3.0

7.Writing table

The writing table usually serves as a desk. In form, it has a series of drawers directly under the surface and four legs to hold it up. This type of table is usually placed in a rich individual’s library. Reading and writing tables were very popular in the 18th century, fitted for writing implements, and they are an English invention.