Hemswell Antique Centres

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Antique dining tables: an antique dealer’s guide


Whether you are entertaining two or twenty people this Christmas, your dining table will be the focal point of your festive meal with a wide choice of style, colour, size and value available to you. At Hemswell Antique Centres, our dealers display a large range of antique dining tables for sale from antique extending dining tables to antique mahogany dining tables. To help you find the perfect table, our dealers have put together this helpful guide.

Styles of antique dining table

Styles vary enormously so if you’re in the market for a new table, familiarise yourself with these popular styles before heading out to view.

Pedestal dining table

Consisting of a table top supported by a single or double pedestal base, this popular style of table is usually round or oval but can be found in other shapes. Highly fashionable at the end of the 18th century, pedestals were used for all types of table, including dining tables and occasional tables.  

Antique trestle table

Ideal for large family gatherings, an antique trestle table is a generous piece of furniture that will accommodate one more person on each side than there are legs on the table. One of the oldest styles of dining table, dating back to the Middle Ages, a trestle table features at least two but sometimes three trestle supports evenly spaced and connected by a beam (stretcher) running the length of the table.

Antique drop leaf dining table

Designed to save space in smaller homes, an antique drop leaf dining table features two hinged leaves which flank a central, fixed section and are supported by brackets. Drop leaf tables can be any shape and can be found in a host of different wood, including mahogany and oak.

Antique extending dining table

The perfect choice for a mid-size room, or where larger guest numbers are not catered for regularly, antique extending dining tables can be dated back to the mid-17th century. Extending dining tables can be made bigger by way of a ‘butterfly’ leaf in the middle of the table or by the addition of a ‘breadboard’ extension at the end of a table.  

How do I know if my dining table is antique?

While the style of table can help in the dating process, the prevalence of top quality reproductions means it can be difficult for the untrained eye, but there are some telltale signs to look out for.

Examine the table closely, particularly the underside of the piece and anywhere you can find evidence of the manufacturing method – tool marks are typically found on older pieces which have been handcrafted without modern power tools.

How ‘perfect’ is the table? In other words are all legs, for example, exactly the same? Hand made pieces will rarely feature identical components and there will be slight variations in size, shape and carvings.

The hardware – screws, nails etc. – will show age so beware if you find brand new, perfectly formed accessories. An older piece may have square nails or screws with off-centre slots. Hinges too will be handmade in an antique piece.

Of course the best way to guarantee the authenticity of any antique dining table is to buy it from experienced and expert dealers at centres like Hemswell, where the finest examples can be found displayed across four large buildings, each filled with a treasure trove of delights. Not far from the beautiful cathedral city of Lincoln and steeped in history, the centres are the largest of their kind in Europe and offer a great day out.

For overseas, commercial clients who are looking for several pieces, we offer our virtual tours where our Managing Director will personally accompany you, showcasing pieces of interest enabling you to view items in detail, from the comfort of your own home. 

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