Ever wonder whether it's a Rococo or Régence? Louis XV or Louis Philippe? A Bergère or Fauteuil? Each week, we will highlight a word, term, or phrase to help identify antique furniture, periods, and styles.
TABLE DE DRAPIER
1. table of a cloth merchant
Origin: 1325-75; <From Anglo-French; Old French drapier, equivalent to drap cloth + -ier
Sketch of a Draper's or Upholsterer's Shop by Gustave Doré (French, Strasbourg 1832–1883 Paris), Metropolitan Museum of Art
Dating as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries, the table de drapier or French draper table was an essential piece of furniture used in a cloth merchant's shop. Designed to have a generous work surface, these large rectangular tables provided the perfect surface area for unfurling, measuring, and cutting long swaths or bolts of fabric. They often had multiple drawers on each side so that seamstresses could work on both sides and always have access to cutting tools and sewing necessities such as shears, snips, and scissors. Most tables also had a lower shelf for storing and stacking additional rolls of beautiful silk, cotton, and linen fabrics for the noble and wool, cotton, and linen for the common people. The tables functioned in a utilitarian fashion, but many were very beautiful work tables — such as the ones below. Considered the crème de la crème of draper tables, these both came from ateliers that catered to the the rich and bourgeois. Fine linens and silk brocades were definitely stacked on those shelves.
Mid-19th Century French Louis Philippe Period Walnut Draper's Table / Item LOPD52 / Lolo French Antiques et More
Grand 18th Century French Directoire Period Walnut Draper's Table with Marquetry Band / Item #LOPC130 / Lolo French Antiques et More
Today, these timeless tables can be easily mixed into both modern and traditional decor. Versatile and functional, tables de drapier can be used as console, display, or hall tables, as well as beautiful kitchen islands or serving tables. Laurent and I used a large one at my son's 2021 wedding that was held at our store. It was the perfect table for a huge charcuterie spread, allowing guests to serve themselves from both sides while enjoying some mulled wine and other spirits during the cocktail hour. The shelf provided plenty of extra storage for plates and glasses, while extra utensils, serving pieces, and napkins were hidden away in the drawers. And the smaller table was recently used at a beautiful baby shower.
Place one against an empty wall to show off your favorite collection of French pottery, linens, breadboards, or baskets. And with drawers and a shelf, the table de drapier is a perfect choice for stylish storage that makes a statement!
When this self-described Francophile is not reading or writing about all things French, she's dreaming up charming new ways to showcase Lolo French Antiques et More or traveling to France with Lolo to buy delightful treasures for their store. Mimi, Lolo, and their new French Bulldog, Duke, live in Birmingham, AL.