IMPORTANT WATIES FAMILY GILT-DECORATED ROSEWOOD-GRAINED CENTER TABLE
The circular Egyptian marble top above a conforming gilt-stencil decorated apron with scrolling acanthus garlands terminating in eagle heads centering medallions with classical visages, supported by three carved and gilded down-swept legs centering a turned gilded ball pendant drop, on a gilt-stenciled tripartite plinth, raised on carved giltwood foliate bracket animal paw feet, on bronze casters.
Condition: Some veneer replacements to the apron and plinth with replacement of stenciled pattern where necessary and consolidation of loose original veneers, very minor restoration to carved brackets, light surface cleaning. Marble top with two chips on the rim, now restored, and very old, possibly original, iron staples on the underside. Woods: Mahogany, White Pine, Cherry, Ash
H: 29˝", Top: 36"
The inspiration for this table was a bronze table unearthed in the excavations of Herculaneum in the second quarter of the eighteenth century. That table was illustrated on page 277 of the eighth volume of Le antichitŕ di Ercolano esposte, an eight-volume, multi-authored work published in Naples between 1757 and 1792 that was the first to accurately illustrate the discoveries of the Vesuvian cities buried in the eruptions of 79 AD. The table design was adopted, without attribution, by George Smith, among the most important furniture designers of the English Regency, and published as a “Dejuné Table” in plate 82 in his 1808 pattern book Collection of Designs for Household Furniture. It is most likely that Deming & Bulkley was familiar with this influential design directory.
This center table was produced for the Waties family of South Carolina, en suite with a pair of rosewood, carved and gilt-stencil decorated card tables, now in the collection at Gracie Mansion, the home of the mayor of the City of New York.
An almost identical example is pictured in the parlor of the Pringle Mansion, now the Miles Brewton House, 27 King Street, Charleston, South Carolina in Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury (New York, 1928) volume I, figure 1054-58.
Deming and Bulkley, a New York firm located at 56 Beekman Street, established a thriving retail business at 205 King Street in Charleston in the 1820s and became the most important supplier of fashionable furniture to the first families of Charleston for the next twenty years.
Brazilia Deming (1781-1854) was a well established cabinetmaker in New York when he was joined in business by his cousin Erastus Bulkley (1798-1872) about 1820, Bulkley having already made his first trip to Charleston at the age of twenty in 1818. Seeing potential in the market there, Bulkley set up a retail establishment on King Street and began to advertise shipments of "elegant ...Cabinet Furniture, from their Manufactory in New York." which "for Elegance of Style and excellence of Workmanship, is equal if not superior to any ever imported to this City." Targeting the very top of the market with the latest in French style, by 1825 they had become the dominant formal furniture supplier to the wealthy and upper middle class of Charleston. The firm discontinued operations in Charleston sometime between 1840 and 1849 but continued to be listed in New York until 1850. By 1852 Bulkley had begun a partnership in New York with German émigré cabinetmaker Gustave Herter.
Deming & Bulkley was among the most important firms making high style, fashionable furniture in New York City between 1820 and 1840. They also brought the practice of gilt stenciling and pen work decoration to a high art, being, arguably, the greatest exponents of this style of which this suite of furniture is the finest example. This center table is one of only two of the style now known by this important firm, the other being in a private collection.
Provenance: The present table has descended in the Waties family as follows:
Judge Thomas Waties (1760-1828) of Georgetown and Stateburg, South Carolina
Prisoner of war confined in England; Captain of the Continental Army under Francis Marion; prominent Jurist in Stateburg region of South Carolina; Episcopal Vestryman and planter. To his wife
Margaret Anne “Peggyanne” Glover (1766-1834) to their son
Thomas Waties M.D. (1794-1830) and Maria Hugar Rutledge (Waties) (1794- 1840) Granddaughter of John Rutledge, to their son
John Waties (1826-1873) Charleston lawyer; Clerk in the Court of Appeals and officer in 'Hampton's Legion' during the Civil War. To his wife
Frances Augusta Parker (Waties) (1830-1909) to their daughter
Catherine Calhoun Waties (1868?-1961) (Charleston & Columbia, SC.) to her great nephews (her sister Mary’s grandchildren)
Mary Sumter Waties (1/29/1860-5/10/1918) m. John Peyre Thomas, Jr. of Columbia, their son
John Waites Thomas m. Polly Shanonhouse (Thomas), their sons
John “Jack” Waties Thomas, Jr. (1919 - ) of Columbia, S.C. (card table)
Joseph Gordon Thomas (1924-1980s) of Columbia, S.C. (card table)
Graham McRee Thomas (1924-1976) of Columbia, S.C. (center table), to his wife
Reference: M.D. McInnis & R.A. Leath, Beautiful Specimens, Elegant Patterns: New York Furniture for the Charleston Market, 1810-1840, American Furniture 1996, (Ed. Luke Beckerdite, Chipstone Foundation)
Alva M. Lumpkin, The Life and Times of Thomas Waties, Patriot, Jurist and Churchman (Columbia, S.C., 1994).