The Problem With Antique Attributions
I recently ran into this table whose title read “Fine Thomas Brooks Marbletop Table” and in the item description, “Thomas Brooks undeniable stylings”, so I looked closer. I can’t tell you definitively if this is a Thomas Brooks table or not, but I doubt it. Brooks made tables of size and substance and this table is too diminutive to be from Brooks but again, I can’t say for sure.
Here are some other tables attributed to Brooks: here, here , here and here, the latter being a very common form I often see attributed to Brooks. Note the graduation in the sizes of the decorative balls. It is these decorative balls upon which many Brooks attributions get made, almost without thought. The fact is, that many makers utilized this styling on their tables as well, such as Berkey & Gay. You can see graduated sized balls on their parlor tables in the book, “Late 19th Century Furniture By Berkey & Gay” on page 19. This book is a reprint of an 1880 original catalog. You will also see a table on page C-103 of “The Big Book of Antique Furniture” which is by Kingman and Murphy of New York with graduated balls. You can see a nearly identical table (except for the table top side carvings which many makers would change up on different models) attributed to Thomas Brooks here.
Buyer beware is the moral of the story and fortunately I see that the public generally won’t purchase many of these misattributions at the prices the sellers put on them assuming the attribution to be correct. I’m sure there are many unknowing purchases made as well. I saw one seller in the description of a pair of chairs saying “purchased as Meeks chairs”. In other words they weren’t comfortable in making the direct attribution to Meeks but wanted to say “since I bought them as Meeks you should too”.