Circular tables with tripod bases and tilting tops were extremely popular among wealthy Philadelphians during the last half of the eighteenth century. Numerous examples survive today. Within this large group, tables that incorporate a compressed ball and Doric column into their pedestal design, such as this example, are the most common.
With its small top (less than 22" [55.9 cm.] wide), uncarved pedestal and legs, and plain feet, this example was one of the simplest, yet fashionable, folding tables available in eighteenth century Philadelphia. A 1772 cabinetmaker's price book describes such a mahogany "folding Stand" as "22 inches with a box plain top and feet £ 1.15.0." Labor costs were 11s. Although such stands were unembellished beyond their fine turning and proportions, they were not inexpensive.
The description of this type of small table as a "folding stand" indicates that it was used for a variety of purposes. The wide top, for example, is large enough to serve tea to one or two people, or to hold candlesticks, books, and wine glasses. The table's small size and lightweight construction also allowed it to be moved throughout a house as needed.