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What is a Card Table?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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A card table is a folding table that usually accommodates four people, though larger folding tables may seat many more. The typical card table was first used in the 17th century in Europe, as card games became popular entertainment, and a source of gambling for middle and upper class families. Games like whist and loo were often four person games, and an upper middle class family or the nobility might have numerous card tables. These could be brought out and used either by the family or to entertain guests. Each card table could be folded and neatly stored for the next party or family gathering.

Although we commonly think of balls as places where people danced, one room was often set aside and filled with card tables, generally for use by men. It wasn’t that women couldn’t or didn’t play cards. It was simply that often at balls they were either occupied by dancing, watching dancing or supervising their grown up daughters during a dance. At less formal gatherings, both women and men played cards.

The card table has remained popular. They’re now most commonly simple square constructions with plastic or fabric covered tops and metal legs. People may use a card table to play games, as a temporary desk, or to provide extra table space for guests at meals. Children’s tables, sometimes popular for large family gatherings, are almost always made up of a card table or two.

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Because the card table is a folding table, it is extremely convenient to use. They’re also inexpensive and you can usually find one for about 20 US dollars (USD). Fancier folding wooden card tables may be considerably more expensive. When not in use, the card table can be stored in a garage or under a large bed.

If you’re using one as a temporary office with a laptop, you should observe a little caution. Since the card table often has a vinyl or plastic coating, it may melt if a laptop runs particularly hot. You can avoid this possible damage by using a fabric-coated top card table, or by placing the laptop on another heat resistant surface.

The typical chair accompaniment to a card table is the folding chair, yet another invention that dates back several centuries. Folding chairs can be quite simply constructed metal with a little vinyl or fabric padding. If you want to be fancy, there are a number of wooden folding chairs that can attractively complement your dining set or dining table.

You should be a little bit cautious with how much weight you put on a card table. Since stability of the table usually rests on four narrow metal legs, the card table may not bear a lot of weight. It may not be the best storage spot for heavy items, though it can easily bear the weight of a few dinner dishes and entrees, and of course most card games.

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