Dr. James W. Elliott first suggested creating a small table from a walking stick and top hat, in an article he wrote for Henry Ridgely Evans's Magic and Its Professors, 1902, p. 167. Elliott's table was not self-standing; the bottom end of the cane was inserted into a hole in the stage.
Henry Roltare reversed the idea, c. 1910, and had the first Table to Cane built for him by H. J. Lehman. Roltare quickly marketed the apparatus in early 1911; see The Sphinx, Vol. 10 No. 2, Apr. 1911, p. 40.