Belter Center Table
Maker: John Henry Belter, [1804-1863] New York. New York
Material: Laminated Rosewood with replacement top
Size: Dia. 26”
Year: ca. 1855
2014.03.16 The Mr. and Mrs. Franck H. Kaiser, Sr. Collection
This diminutive table is part of a large set of furniture that was purchased by the Acklens for use in the parlors at Belmont. Upon first view there is no doubt the table is the work of John Henry Belter. All the hallmarks of his work are present in this one piece. Constructed of laminated rosewood, a pierced carved apron exhibits clusters of grapes coupled with curvaceous vines supported by heavily detailed cabriole legs on original brass casters. Medial stretchers running from leg to leg cross diagonally in the center supporting a bouquet of clustered fruit and roses topped with a flat Tudor rose.
The upholstered pieces of this set are in what is now known as the “Fountain Elms” pattern with the exception of the two meridiennes which are in the “Tutthill King” pattern. Also surviving is a larger center table with its original marble top, a console étagère and another larger étagère. The surviving upholstered pieces consist of a small size sofa, two arm chairs, two armless chairs, two meridiennes (all in the Belmont Mansion collection); four additional armless chairs and a slipper chair are not in the collection. A large size sofa has been documented in a photograph put its location is now unknown. In addition to this parlor set it is known that the Acklens purchased a minimum of twelve dining room chairs from the Belter shop which survive in the collection. Family tradition also records a bedroom suite by Belter.
Evidence suggests that due to the large number of documented pieces of parlor furniture, it appears both the Central Parlor and Tete a’ Tete rooms were furnished exclusively with Belter furniture. When mentally placing Adelicia’s pieces in these rooms, the table here described would almost certainly have served as a center table in the Tete a’ Tete room.
It is estimated the Acklen’s owned over forty pieces of John Henry Belters’ furniture in the rooms of Belmont Mansion. Americans of comparable wealth nationwide patronized Belters’ shop. He was the most commercially successful cabinetmaker of his generation, constantly upgrading his manufacturing facilities and showrooms. John Henry Belter was born in Germany and left for America in 1833. He opened his first shop in New York City in 1844. In 1850 he built a five story furniture shop on 76th Street near 3rd Avenue. He was the premiere maker of Rocco Revival furniture in America. While he did not invent the process of lamination he brought new methods of molding and bending wood to cabinet making; he registered four patents for construction of furniture. He died in 1863. His firm continues until December of 1867.