Tables made early in Duncan’s career are less ornately carved than later pieces and will be close in style to Regency and Sheraton styles. Later tables are more elaborately carved and truer to the Empire style.
The feet of a Phyfe table will most likely be in the shape of carved claws or paws and will sometimes have brass feet or claws. The carving of these feet will be highly detailed and very crisp. Later Phyfe pieces are more elaborately carved than the earlier pieces and the carvings are likely to be foliage like laurel or acanthus leaves.
Legs of a Phyfe table will likely be curved and reeded or curved and carved with foliage details. The legs will blend gracefully into a vase-shaped pedestal that is also heavily carved to match the rest of the details on the table. Larger tables will have two or more pedestals and each pedestal will have three or four legs and feet, each of which will be elaborately carved.
The top of a Duncan Phyfe table will be designed to place emphasis on and show off the high quality wood used to make the table. Mahogany, satinwood and rosewood tops are the most common and will look deep and rich. The edge of the top of the table will often have multiple beads running around it, breaking up the straight lines of the table edge. Veneers may also be used in the tops. In Phyfe tables, the use of a drop-leaf is very common. Collectors should check to make sure that the hinges on the drop-leaves are originals to ensure highest value of the table.
Phyfe avoided the use of straight lines in both the tops and legs of his tables. The leaves are nearly always slightly rounded, sometimes having a clover-leaf pattern at the corners. He seldom if ever made a table with four vertical legs at the corners until after 1830.
A specialty of his was a card table standing on a tripod fitted with an internal mechanism which made it possible to move two of the legs outward and drop a leaf so that the table could be placed close against a wall.
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