by Christopher Storb

In 1968, H. Richard Dietrich, Jr. acquired a triple-leaf card table with round corners, claw feet, and leaf carving on the knees as well on the round pillar above (Fig. 1). The rarity of the triple-leaf top on an American table was part of the table’s allure. English and Irish card tables with triple-leaf tops are not unusual, but in 1968 only a single table with a triple-leaf top, of New York City origin, was known.1 The attribution to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was a further incentive to add the table to the recently established Dietrich American Foundation. Though the table is clearly indebted to the design and ornamentation of Philadelphia furniture from the third quarter of the eighteenth century, the table is now attributed to Gerrard Hopkins (1742–1800) of Baltimore, Maryland.2 The new attribution is based on similarities between the carving on the table and a high chest with Hopkins’ printed label, his only documented work.3

Fig.1: Card table, attributed to Gerrard Hopkins (1742–1800), Baltimore, Md., 1770–1780. Mahogany, yellow poplar, white oak, black cherry, brass, iron, painted canvas, H. 29, W. 34¾, D. (closed) 15⅜, (open) 30⅞ in. The Dietrich American Foundation. The gadrooning at the bottom edge for the front and side rails is restored. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.

Left: The Baltimore card table with one leaf unfolded. Right: The Baltimore card table open to the playing surface sunk for a cloth liner, round corners for candlesticks, and, to the right of the corners, oval dishes for gaming counters. Photos by Gavin Ashworth.

The knee and round corner carving on the table attributed to Gerrard Hopkins. Photo by author.

During the 1760s, Baltimore experienced tremendous population growth and would eventually compete with Philadelphia as a commercial center in the post-Revolutionary period. Hopkins and another Philadelphia-trained cabinetmaker, Robert Moore (1723–1787), who arrived in Baltimore in 1770, would have been attracted to the prospect of distinguishing themselves in the newly emerging city as masters of their own shops. With a fraction of the population of other leading style centers in colonial America, and with only two principal cabinetmakers, furniture that can be attributed to pre-Revolutionary Baltimore is exceedingly rare.

Hopkins is reputed to have been a member of a prosperous Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Quaker family. A memorandum in the Maryland Historical Society quotes records of the Quaker community, Gunpowder Monthly Meeting, for the 27th of the 4th month 1754, “Whereas Gerard Hopkins, son of Samuel Hopkins is removed to live in Philadelphia, his father requests a certificate to join him to Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, which was granted.” The author continues, “July 27th, 1757, he [Gerard] was a member of Race Street Monthly Meeting . . . He was apprenticed to Johnathan (sic) Shoemaker to learn the business of cabinet maker.”4  

Hopkins declared his Philadelphia training in an advertisement he placed in the Maryland Gazette, April 9, 1767, a month after Philadelphia Quaker Meeting records list Hopkins’ removal from Philadelphia to Baltimore. In the advertisement he announced that he was a “…Cabinet and Chairmaker, from Philadelphia at the Sign of the Tea Table and chair in Gay Street Baltimore-Town[.] Makes and sells the following goods in the best manner, and in the newest Fashions in Mahogany, Walnut, Cherry-tree and maple viz. Chest of drawers of various sorts, Desk, Bookcases, Scruitors [secretary], Cloth-presses, Tables of Various sorts such as bureau, card, chamber, parlor, and Tea Tables, Chairs of Various sorts such as easy, arm, Parlor, Chamber or corner chairs, Settees, Clock-cases, couches, Candle stands, Decanter stands, Tea Kettle Stands, Dumb-Waiters, Tea-Boards, Bottle-Boards &c. &c. N.B. Any of the above Articles to be done with or without carved work.” 

Fig. 2: Card table, attributed to John Goddard (1723–1785), Newport, R.I., 1750–1770. Mahogany, maple, chestnut, brass, iron. H. 28 ½, W. 30 ¾, D. (closed) 15 ¾, (open) 30¾ in. The Dietrich American Foundation. Photo by author.

The brass keeper from the bottom surface of the second leaf engraved “Made by John Goddard.” Photo by author.

The first leaf of the Hopkins’ card table unfolds to reveal a plain surface of book-matched mahogany boards. Unfolding the middle leaf reveals a playing surface sunk for a fabric liner, round corners for candlesticks, and to the right of the corners, oval dishes for gaming counters. Card tables with claw feet, carved knees, and moulding cost 4 pounds, according to Prices of Cabinet and Chair Work, published in Philadelphia in 1772. Sinking the top and covering it with a green cloth added ten shillings to the cost of the table. A card table with round corners, claw feet, lined with green cloth, with leaves on the knees, and carved mouldings is listed at 8 pounds. The carving on the round corner at the top of the leg and the addition of a third leaf would have substantially increased the cost of the table.5

Unlocking the second leaf of the Newport card table provides access to a large well for storing cards and counters. The well is a dovetailed maple box used as a substrate for shaped mahogany appliques on the front and side rails. The rounded tops of the front legs are notched at their inside corners and glued to the front corners of the box. The keeper engraved “Made by John Goddard” can be seen on the leaf. Photo by author.

The knee carving on the table attributed to John Goddard. Photo by author.

A decade later, Dietrich had the opportunity to acquire a second round-corner card table for the Foundation (Fig. 2) The table is attributed to John Goddard (1723–1785) of Newport, Rhode Island. A second-generation cabinetmaker, Goddard, and his brother James, both married daughters of Job Townsend, uniting the two leading Newport cabinetmaking dynasties. The attribution to Goddard is based on distinctive characteristics of the carving of the pierced claw feet of the table in relation to carved feet documented to Goddard’s shop. The robust curvilinear form of the rails is also a characteristic associated with Goddard’s design aesthetic. Goddard experimented with more furniture design variations than any other Newport cabinetmaker, which may account for this being the only known round-corner card table produced in Newport.6 

A brass keeper on the bottom surface of the second leaf for the lock that secures access to the well is engraved “Made by John Goddard.” It is not known when the engraving was applied to the keeper, but the style of the script suggests it could be contemporary with the table or added shortly after the table was completed. 

At first glance the Newport table also appears to have three leaves. However, four strips of wood with the grain running horizontally on all pieces, nailed to the top edge of a maple box, only gives the appearance of a third leaf when the table is closed. With the first leaf unfolded, a plain playing surface is exposed. Unfolding the second leaf uncovers a well for storage. When open, the folding leaves are supported by the pair of rear swing legs.

This article is the seventh in a series featuring the Dietrich American Foundation’s collection, intended as a type of crowd sourcing exercise, where responses and information shared by readers can inform research. The Foundation’s mission is to share findings and stories about people, place, and history that are revealed through research. For information about the Dietrich American Foundation, visit

1.  Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Random House, 1985), 171–173, no. 103. Today less than a half dozen triple-leaf card tables made in colonial America are known.

2.  H. Richard Dietrich III and Deborah M. Rebuck, eds., In Pursuit of History: A Lifetime Collecting Colonial American Art and Artifacts (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press for the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Dietrich American Foundation, 2019), 122, cat. 2:11. With the change in attribution, there are currently no triple-leaf card tables known to have been made in Philadelphia.

3.  For the high chest and label, see Luke Beckerdite, “An Identity Crisis: Philadelphia and Baltimore Furniture Styles of the Mid Eighteenth Century,” in Catherine E. Hutchins, ed., Shaping a National Culture, The Philadelphia Experience, 1750–1800 (The Henry Francis Winterthur Museum, 1994), figs. 1, 2. For an armchair attributed to Hopkins, see William Voss Elder III and Jayne E. Stokes, American Furniture 1680–1880 from the Collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore: Baltimore Museum of Art, 1987), 28–30. For a set of side chairs attributed to Hopkins, see Alexandra W. Rollins, ed., Treasures of State, Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. Department of State (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991), 116–117, no. 36. For a dressing table, see Sotheby’s, Important Americana, January 24–25, 2014, lot 296. 

4.  It is unclear which Quaker meeting Hopkins belonged to as today’s Race Street Meeting House at Cherry and 15th Street in Philadelphia was not built until 1856. A photocopy of a typed single-sheet memorandum was provided to us by the Maryland Historical Society. It is numbered page 95, and said to be from the Samuel Gover Hopkins Collection [G-5025; Box 2]. The document is not dated and is unsigned. It is assumed this is the document furniture historians have referenced to claim Hopkins’s apprenticeship to Shoemaker. To date, this fact has not been confirmed by primary documentation.

5.  Martin Eli Weil, “A Cabinetmaker’s Price Book,” in Ian M. G. Quimby, ed., American Furniture and Its Maker, Winterthur Portfolio 13 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press for The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1979), 186. 

6.  Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 245.

Christopher Storb is a furniture conservator, woodworking historian, and wood artist. Please send comments and related research to, or call 610.212.5528.