Monday, October 03, 2011

New Dining Room Table!

A couple of years ago I obtained my grandparents' table after my grandpa was moved into a nursing home (or more truthfully, my mom obtained it and immediately passed it down to me). The table was in bad shape, having been stored in not-exactly-ideal conditions, so it was put into storage at my parents' farm until we could get it restored. No one seems to know much about the table, my mom and her brothers and sister just remember it being their table when they were growing up. My mom's aunt Dee Dee said that it was left for my grandparents by my grandma Mandy's parents, so it's from the Gieseke side of the family.

Here's the only before picture that I have, from the sale. The table is in the middle, topped with random chairs and this beautiful golden horse clock (wonder who lucked out and ended up with that gem?).

My parents, having also recently acquired an old table from the other side of the family, tracked down a furniture restorer in St. Peter and had that table refinished (that should be a whole other blog post on its own!). Once we saw the work that was done on that table, we had them take ours in to be restored, as well. One month later, this is what we now have in our dining room!

Here's what we know about the table: it was made by St. John's Table Co. in Cadillac, MI (as deduced from the brand label on the table's pedestal), and more than likely it was produced in 1909 (as deduced from a stamp of 09 underneath the tabletop), which would make it over 100 years old! The table top is quartersawn oak, which is a beautiful method that was popular during the late 1800s-early 1900s, as part of the American Arts & Crafts movement (same movement that generated all of those great Craftsman homes in the twin cities). So what is quartersawn oak, exactly?  I had to google it, but the best explanation I can find is at The Barnyard Gazette. I'm stealing their image for a quick visual, because it's the best I've found:

 The logs were first cut into quarters, then each quarter was cut so that the planks were exactly perpendicular to the growth rings. This gives each plank a unique look due to the visualization of the growth rings (or what's officially called "medullary ray flecks," I think). This took a lot of labor, and wasted a lot of wood, so it's not done much anymore, which is why pieces that have this are of a higher value.

Additionally, the edge of the table, right below the tabletop, is ridged, meaning that the oak was bent specially as it was shaped into an oval. This is also unique.

The table was found with 2 9-inch leaves, both of which were terribly warped and I was afraid they were beyond repair. Fortunately, the furniture restorer works with a woodworker, who was able to save them. Better yet, when my mom went to pick up the table, they showed her that the pedestal that the tabletop sits upon actually splits into two by a unique mechanism. She asked if the table perhaps would accommodate more leaves then, and they hadn't considered that. She hauled it up to my place last night, and sure enough, we can pull the table apart even farther than anticipated!  The end result is that it can accommodate 3 more 9-inch leaves, which would give us an 8 foot long table!  So, we're having them make us 3 new leaves to match the first two, which means we may have to do some fancy dinner parties this winter.

For now, we're using the chairs from our old dining room table (a hand-me-down from David's parents, which I realized yesterday I've had for 10 years - through college and grad school, up until now!).  That table got moved down to the basement to be used as a winemaking center for the hubby. I'm looking forward to finding some fun chairs to go with the new table...although I'll have to keep a look out for a large number of them now that I will have an 8 foot long table!  Can't wait for the official finished product, but right now I'm enjoying the beautiful new addition to our home!  I'm off to buy some clear vinyl to cover it so that miss Mia doesn't immediately destroy it with food or crayons (I already found her on top of it this morning!).


Vicki said...

It looks absolutely beasutiful!! Sure puts our old table to shame. Did you say you were having Thanksgiving?

Unknown said...

I have two pieces from the St John table company. The first one is a beautiful hutch the second is a small end table which we use in the living room. About 15 years ago I wanted to track down the company and see if they were still in business. We live in Detroit and the company was in Cadillac(about 2.5 hours north). We went camping with my two brothers and arrived about 8 years late. They were now a super fund site which I'm not sue even today has been cleared up. They built a lot of what I would call library tables which made fine dining room tables. They seem to do work mostly in maple which the area is just filled with. I love most of what I see periodically. They seem to have classic lines which appeals to me. The Detroit Public Library at one time was getting rid of a lot of furniture and I bought a few at ridiculously cheap prices. They don't exist anymore as the sales got real popular real quick. That's all I know and I do like the stuff they built. There is a website which names all the old furniture companies in Michigan. Google it if you want info.
Detroit, Michigan

Anonymous said...

I am delighted to find this information, because I have a maple drop-leaf table that was made at St. John's Table Co, and I would like to find out more about it. My first surprise was to learn that my table may well be at least 100 years old! I have copied the numbers on the underside and hope to learn more about it, but I don't see anything that could represent a date of origin. It says, "Old Amber S37-RI07 4I6 DTI/7". If anyone has any idea what that means, or where I could find out, I would sure appreciate knowing. Thanks! Betty in St. Louis

Anonymous said...

I bought one of these tables with 6 chairs from one of my bosses 3 years ago for $50. Been looking to find out what type of table it is ever since. It also has 2 9" leaves as yours does. Thank you for this info!!