Creole Table

Born on a bayou, this sought-after American table is spiced with both French and Canadian influences.
By Christopher Schwarz
Pages: 66-73

From the February 2007 issue #160
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Until recently, Creole-style furniture was a bit obscure, known mostly to a handful of furniture collectors who specialized in pieces made in the Mississippi valley.

But that’s changing.

The original version of this 18th-century walnut table sold for $54,625 at a 2003 auction. And other Creole pieces, such as armoires, are commanding prices up to $140,000.

So what is the Creole style? Essentially, Creole encompasses furniture made in the Mississippi valley by furniture makers who were usually French-Canadian. The pieces have lots of French touches, such as cabriole legs, but also have the unmistakable restraint of early American furniture that collectors seek.

This table, for example, looks quite a bit like drawings of 18th-century French furniture from Denis Diderot’s “L’Encyclopedie ou Dictionnaire Raisonné” (1751-1780) – but without the banding, inlay, carving and marquetry.

I first saw this table in the magazine Early American Life and was completely enamored. Our project illustrator, John Hutchinson, took a photograph and produced the construction drawings. And 37 hours of shop-time later, this is the result.

From the February 2007 issue #160
Buy this issue now