Friday 16 May 2014

Depression Era Cotton Reel Leg Table

I finally went to my first Antique Auction this week. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time but just never seemed to get around to it. So I jumped at the chance when the opportunity arose.

I was interested in a couple of items but only ended up bidding on one of them. There was only one other bidder for the item I wanted (not very serious) so in the end I was able to come home with my first auction win. My prize was a nice piece of Australiana, a small Depression Era table, probably made in the 1920-30s. It has legs made from cotton reels and top and stretchers decorated with pokerwork. Apart from being a little shaky, it's in very good overall condition. Not bad for being about 80 to 90 years old.

Depression era cotton reel and pokerwork table.  The table stands 65cm high with a 18.5cm diameter top.

A bit of an unusual combination, the pokerwork with the black and gold. To me, the black and gold colour scheme gives it a somewhat Egyptian look. Maybe the colour scheme was influenced by the popularity of everything Egyptian that swept the world after Howard Carter's discovery of  King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922.

The legs are each made up of 21 cotton reels threaded on steel rods. Each cotton reel has been painted black and gold and each leg is composed of different size and shaped cotton reels placed in the same order making each leg symmetrical.

The top (and bottom most) cotton reels each have a convex shaped centre.
The stretchers have been joined with lapped joints fixed with screws from below.

Nice floral pokerwork top.

More pokerwork on the stretchers, daffodils this time.

I may not have found a whatnot made of cotton reels but I think that this table is just as good. Again, this little table clearly shows what can be made from whatever materials are at hand. Another fine example of Australian ingenuity from the Depression Era.

And I wonder, if now that I own three items from the Depression Era, it means that I have now started another new collection. What will be next?


  1. I am a pokerwork collector and to see your table- with the ingenious cottonreel legs- was an absolute thrill.! The pokerwork is nicely done too. Congratulations on your find.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments. I was pretty excited when I saw it in the auction catalogue and even more excited to be able to bring it home with me. I have picked up a few more nice pieces of pokerwork recently which will feature in my next blog post.


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