Rundlet-May House

Work Table

Sewing was considered to be an important accomplishment for nineteenth century women, and a necessary one in many families. The work table, a stand with one or two drawers, contained compartments for sewing accessories. Frequently, a deep lower drawer or fabric covered bag could hold unfinished sewing projects. A shelf, as Thomas Sheraton noted in 1793, served the same purpose, offering as well “a convenience for sewing implements.” This striking example was used by Jane Rundlet as part of the original furnishings of the house. The brightly figured birch veneer, bold legs, and overall proportions make this small table one of the best examples of the confidence and refined style of Portsmouth furniture making.