An antique gateleg table was first created in the 16th century, in England. The table was often made from solid oak wood and was vastly used as a dining table. However, the table was used in a variety of manners and continues to be a popular table choice for many households. Essentially, this table was made up of three (sometimes more) parts with the middle part usually rectangular in shape. The standard gateleg table had two further sections that were hinged and could be folded out. The gateleg table got its name from the swing leg design. 

Early gate leg tables were used as a dining table. Today, this table continues to be widely used in homes around the world. They’re very popular because of their design and style. Since the table has a swing-out leg, it enables them to have a more stable table to sit at. Also, they can be used in any dining room and stored away when not in use. Most dining tables from the early periods of the 16th and 17th centuries were made of oak.

So, what does an antique gate leg table look like and what do you need to these about them? 

What an Antique Gateleg Table Looks Like

Antique gateleg tables are very distinctive and are easily recognizable. The gate leg usually has one large centerpiece with two hinged drop leaves to either side. When the drop leaves open up, they create a large dining table. The drop leaves or flaps are supported by the turned legs underneath which swing out like a gate – and thus a name was born. The additional swing legs underneath help to offer more stability to the table and support the oval top dining table too. 

The drop leaves can be folded and when they are, they help to save space, which was why the leg table was so popular in the 17th century. However, even today, it’s just as popular because of its unique leg design and convenience to save space. You can find these tables quite easily and they make great dining tables. Often made from oak, the gate leg was a perfect addition to any home and was impressive. The legs were easily recognizable as they were baluster and came with iron hinges to support the oval top. There were even oak drawers to store cutlery and other dining necessities. 

Antique gate leg tables were mostly found in large stately or country homes and were hugely popular among those in high society. The oval top made the leg table an ideal dining table and the turned legs offered more convenience for storage too. Gateleg tables offered charm and elegance. Even today, gateleg tables remain a popular table choice and it can neatly fit into any home. Convenient furniture is difficult to find, but the gate leg is truly one of the best on offer.  

Knowing the Differences between Gateleg Dining Tables and a Drop Leaf Dining Table

Gateleg tables have become popular in modern times because they transform into a wonderful dining table in seconds. What’s more, they’re a talking point of any home. Unfortunately, there is some confusion as they look very similar to the drop leaf table. In actual fact, the drop leaf design came from the gateleg table but was created many years after. So, what’s the difference between the two then?

Drop leaf and gateleg tables vary in size and shape and have similar features. However, the drop leaf table has two drop sections. Whereas, the gateleg table, when folded, has a smaller surface area but may have several drop or foldable sections. The gateleg table offers more stability because of the swing leg design. This table is an ideal option for many compact homes as it can be stored away when it isn’t in use. 

There are also differences with the leg design. With a gateleg table, the legs swing out, whereas a drop leaf doesn’t. While the drop leaf does fold down, their legs don’t usually move or retract fully. That’s one of the biggest and main differences between the gate leg table and the drop leaf. If you’re not sure what table you have, look at the legs and see if they swing out (like a gate) or remain in the same position. 

How To Tell If Your Gateleg Dining Table Is Really An Antique?

You’ve looked at gateleg tables IKEA and liked the antique style. You’ve even compared them to many other gateleg tables, but, how can you tell which is the real antique? One thing you need to know about modern gateleg tables is that they’re designed to offer a vintage feel. That can make it difficult to determine a genuine antique from a reproduction table. If you were to look at an IKEA gate leg table, you could think it’s a vintage table from the early 16th century. Some modern tables are designed with vintage in mind and that’s what you have to be careful of. So, how to tell if your gateleg is a genuine antique? 

  • Is The Gate Leg Table Oak?

If the gateleg table was made around the 16th or 17th centuries, it’ll be more likely made from oak. Almost all gateleg tables were exclusively made from oak and that’s the first thing to look for. Of course, some gateleg tables had a walnut table top with an oak frame underneath. However, the majority were oak.

Modern tables are sometimes cheaply made so aren’t made from solid oak wood; instead, they’re wood veneers. While some have an oak finish, they don’t have the same finish early antiques do. Don’t be fooled by the oak finish; it’s a good indication of the period it came from but, that alone doesn’t determine a genuine gateleg dining table. There will be more signs to watch for.

  • Do Your Research On Antique Gateleg Tables

What do you know about oak gateleg tables? Do you know what an antique dining table looks like or when a gateleg table was first made? It’s hard to spot a true antique when you have little or no knowledge about them. You need to get in the know. So, let’s say you were interested in a 17th century dining table; you’d have to research the type of table styles from that period. Also, the design may enable you to determine if the dining table was made in the 1600s or the 1990s.

  • Inspect The Table

You have a gate leg table and want to determine if it’s a vintage gateleg. So, you’ll need to inspect it. Look at all aspects of the table, including the turned legs and hinges. Do the legs match the styles from a standard gateleg? If so, what period do the legs match? This goes back to your research. When you know what to look for with the table legs and other little details, it’ll be easier to narrow down an era and go from there to verify its authenticity.

Remember, you’ll likely see some imperfections across the surface of the table. That doesn’t mean the table is worthless or it’s not a genuine gateleg table made hundreds of years ago. In fact, you want to see those imperfections or irregularities with an oak dining table. The reason why is because a gate leg table made before the 1860s was fully handmade and as such, imperfections were left behind by hand tools. The leg and underside of the table might have more of those irregularities. Inspect the turned legs and see if the table top’s surface is entirely smooth.

Ideally, you need to inspect the dining table as a whole and that means looking at the turned legs and the underside of the table. Sometimes, the underside would have more imperfections because the top part of the leg wasn’t seen and the legs were less noticeable. Whereas, carpenters would take more care on the side that was used and seen.

  • Some Mismatch of the Table

Antiques should not match perfectly. Remember, these were more likely to be handmade and that meant the tables wouldn’t be perfect matches. Some elements on the gateleg table might be mismatching. For instance, some carving details might not be perfect or match entirely on each leg. Of course, some legs will have a closer match than others. Sometimes, that’s the signs you want to see simply because it’s a good indication of an antique gate leg table.

  • Know the Era the Table Was Made

Every era or period in history is known for having a specific furniture design or style, especially with a gateleg table. That’s where you want to begin with a leg table. You want to explore and determine the era the table has come from. For instance, the oak leg table often had baluster leg designs. However, examining the turned legs and looking at the table top’s style is essential. You want to see nice oak designs with baluster legs. If your table doesn’t have that, it could still be a genuine gateleg table. Remember, every period differs. Your table might be a genuine antique.

  • Look At Its Craftsmanship Of The Gateleg Table

Table manufacturing in the 21st century is very different from 16th century manufacturing. That’s something you have to look for to determine if your gateleg table is antique or a reproduction. Since antique gateleg tables were mostly handmade, you want to check on the craftsmanship of the table. A leg table should have good craftsmanship because it brings pride of ownership and shows the carpenter put their all into creating the table.

Determining an antique table can be difficult. A quality gateleg table can look as though it was made in the early 1700s when it was actually made a few years ago. So you have to look at every inch of the table, from the legs up. Look at how each leg was made, and whether quality oak was used to craft the dining table. Ideally, you want a quality gateleg dining table that’s made from solid oak wood and that’s been well maintained too. Don’t forget to look at the legs either because these are just as important as the table top.

How Much Is An Antique Gateleg Table Worth?

Antique furniture values vary considerably. Some antique pieces are worth more than others and their worth will depend on their age, their overall condition, their size, and of course, what an individual is willing to pay. While an antique table has an estimated value of $5,500, an individual dealer or collector may be willing to pay up to $8,880. Of course, that depends on whether they’re able and willing to pay such a price. Remember, every antique’s buyer puts a price on the antique.

Gate leg dining tables are especially sought after, but their worth may all depend on the design and condition of the table. Antique dining table prices range significantly from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. For instance, a Chippendale antique gateleg dining table may be valued at $1,200; then again, others can be worth $12,750. It has been known that a William and Mary gate leg sold for over $17,000. That’s fantastic and your gate leg could be valued in the same range or considerably less. It may all depend on the table, its condition, and demand for the table too.

Unfortunately, a gate leg table can be devalued because of faults or the amount of restoration carried out on the table. For instance, if the hinges, that support the oval top, have been completely removed and replaced by modern hinges, it’ll devalue the table somewhat. If the oak drawers have been realigned or replaced, that too will impact the value of the table. Another way to devalue the antique oak table would be if the legs were stripped back or replaced.

If a gateleg dining table has been moderately repaired, that too may impact the value. For instance, the legs have been completely replaced with modern legs and new hinges. That’ll devalue the table significantly because it’s not a full antique, so to speak. One of the original (and most important) parts have been replaced with a modern leg instead. So, while minor repairs to the table legs are fine, it needs to be in keeping with the antique gateleg table original design or style.

Antique gateleg tables can be significantly devalued when the top part of the oak table has been replaced or has been completely stripped back. Also, if the turned legs are replaced and a new frame is applied to the table, it will greatly reduce the value. So, while minor restoration can be important, the way you do so could impact the long-term value of the antique gateleg table.

How Collectible Are Oak Gateleg Dining Tables?

Antiques are always collectible, especially beautiful oak gateleg tables. They can work well in any home and can be displayed with minimum fuss. However, certain pieces will be far more collectible than others. For instance, a 17th-century oak gateleg table might be far more collectible (to some) than a smoking table from the 18th-century. Then again, the position might be reversed. Remember, collectibles vary considerably and are worth something to the individual collector first and foremost.

Antique oak gateleg tables are collectible on some level because they’re so unique. While gateleg tables can still be seen today, there’s a demand for original leg tables. Remember, a gateleg table can look fantastic and, to the right collector, can be priceless. However, collectibles come and go and so does the demand for them. If you’re going to buy an oak gateleg table, you might want to ensure the table is maintained well.

Love Your Antique Table

Antiques are treasured items because they’re a part of history. An antique gateleg table is very much a part of 16th-century history and even though the origins date back hundreds of years, they’re greatly sought after. Buying a table could be a smart idea. You can add something special to your home and may even kick-start your collection. Knowing what a gateleg table can offer is essential. Learn how to determine if your table is a modern reproduction or a true antique.