Beautiful Things: Antique Tilt-Top Table

Mom gave me this table from my great-grandma Bessie — her father’s mother.

Table in folded position.

Table in folded position.

I keep it in folded position in my bedroom. I don’t know if this is a table we’d ever use. At least not until we become delicate card-players and long in the tooth.

The table, unfolded.

The table, unfolded.

The art on the table is … interesting. Fascinating. Weird.

The serpent is being attacked by the warriors in the boat on the right.  Mermaids in the background, other soldiers standing at the ready.

The serpent is being attacked by the warriors in the boat on the right. Mermaids in the background, other soldiers standing at the ready.

The whole table isn’t even three feet across. Some of the art is very detailed.

It looks as if the soldiers are standing on a boat of some sort, being steered by the boy sitting in the back.  I'm not sure what that is between them. Another soldier? Another mythical creature?

It looks as if the soldiers are standing on a boat of some sort, being steered by the boy sitting in the back. I’m not sure what that is between them. Another soldier? Another mythical creature?

Europeans, missionaries, Greek mythology, Chinese astrology, Oriental legend, Asian folklore. I have no idea, really.

There is a close-up of the attack on the serpent.  Do you see the couple sitting in the front of the boat?

There is a close-up of the attack on the serpent. Do you see the couple sitting in the front of the boat?

We’d love to learn more about this art. The artist, the time period. We know that Bessie was born in 1894 or so, and that this table is probably 100 years old.

A close-up of the mermaids.

A close-up of the mermaids.

Some of the details are hard to see without the use of photographic close-ups.

The shields have sea creatures on them -- looks like mussel shells, a whelk or conch or some sort of snail, then a lobster, and then a dragon.  Run of the mill sea creatures.

The shields have sea creatures on them — looks like mussel shells, a whelk or conch or some sort of snail, then a lobster, and then a dragon. Run of the mill sea creatures.

Quite dapper.

Quite dapper.

And the people! Really fascinating to me. Who are they?

Just going for a stroll in the park.

Just going for a stroll in the park.

Love the print on the trousers.

See the larger man's lower body in the foeground?  He has women printed on his trousers, and a man's face peeking between his legs.  And then there's that sly man speaking to the woman over his shoulder.

See the larger man’s lower body in the foeground? He has women printed on his trousers, and a man’s face peeking between his legs. And then there’s that sly man speaking to the woman over his shoulder.

Looks like a beautiful estate back there, but also, I think I see a cross on the top of that building.

Looks like a beautiful estate back there, but also, I think I see a cross on the top of that building.

Dancing in the park, musicians on the right.

Dancing in the park, musicians on the right.

Very hard to see, and this is really small on the table, but does this lion have wings?  Is that a goat behind it?

Very hard to see, and this is really small on the table, but does this lion have wings? Is that a goat behind it?

This is some sort of mythical dog creature, I think.  Is this Argos, the dog that Odysseus left behind?

This is some sort of mythical dog creature, I think. Is this Argos, the dog that Odysseus left behind?

More mythical creatures in the border of the table.

More mythical creatures in the border of the table.

According to wikipedia, a hsigo is a creature from Chinese folklore -- a monkey with a human faces, a dog tails and bird wings. They are servents to the people that owned them, much like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz.  Elsewhere online, I read that seeing one indicates a coming drought.  Is that cupid behind this one, aiming an arrow?

According to wikipedia, a hsigo is a creature from Chinese folklore — a monkey with a human faces, a dog tails and bird wings. They are servents to the people that owned them, much like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. Elsewhere online, I read that seeing one indicates a coming drought. Is that cupid behind this one, aiming an arrow?

If I could search the internet all day to figure this out, I would. But I only gave myself an hour. (And Sophie complied.)

Another monkey, cupid, and a snake, of course.

Another monkey, cupid, and a snake, of course.

The border of the table is filled with creatures and people and symbols.

Man riding a lion.  I think...?

Man riding a lion. I think…?

Genie from the lamp, perhaps.

Genie from the lamp, perhaps.

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2 Comments

  1. Amy Clifton

     /  December 11, 2012

    Fascinating! Have you considered getting in touch with the PBS show, Antique Roadshow?

    Reply
    • I have in the past, but they only go to large cities, and then see only about 100 people out of the 10,000 attendees. Better to search the ‘net looking for an art appraiser that might have a clue.

      Reply

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