Oliver Ellsworth’s mahogany card tables reunited at Homestead

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Wed., Jul. 24, 2013
Oliver Ellsworth’s mahogany card table, which is owned by the Windsor Historical Society. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Oliver Ellsworth’s mahogany card table, which is owned by the Windsor Historical Society. Photos by Lisa Stone.

The Windsor Historical Society sponsored a celebration on July 14 at the homestead of Oliver Ellsworth to commemorate the reuniting of two mahogany card tables which were once owned by the late Connecticut senator. The pair of tables were originally purchased in the early 1800s by Ellsworth and they remained at the homestead until 1857. The Ellsworth Homestead, operated by the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution, has owned one of these tables since 1903. In January of 2013, the Windsor Historical Society acquired its mate at auction. Separated since 1857, the two tables were recently reunited in Ellsworth’s parlor after more than 150 years apart.

The Windsor Historical Society’s curator, Christina Vida, gave an in-depth review of the tables’ history and present condition. In 1995, the missing table was sold at auction to a private collector in Plainville, Conn. The new owners, Thomas and Alice Kugelman, had the table restored, and this past January, they sold it at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York. When the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution heard this table was thought to be the missing Ellsworth table, they realized they should acquire it and return it to the homestead. Unfortunately, the funds were not available for such a purchase due to restoration fees that they were encountering elsewhere. DAR then contacted the Windsor Historical Society and presented the option to purchase the table to them.

“We were thrilled to win the bid at the auction. We paid $11,200 for the table, but it is thought to be worth over $20,000,” said Vida. “I would really like to praise the Ellsworth Homestead for taking such great care of the table. It is in wonderful condition.”

According to Vida, the tables would have been used for such activities as having tea or coffee after a formal dinner, playing a card game, or any other entertainment need that a table could provide. “Senator Ellsworth was a gentleman, so he would want to entertain his guests in the way that they would be accustomed to. The elaborate table would be elite enough for just that purpose,” Vida explained.

The Windsor Historical Society’s table will remain on loan to the Ellsworth Homestead through the end of July. The Ellsworth Homestead is open Fridays and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. A donation of $4 for adults is suggested for regular tours.

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