Unfolding an Eighteenth-Century Gaming Table

This finely crafted piece of furniture has a secret. Swing out a leg, adjust an arm, and voilà! Leaves unfold to reveal multiple configurations: a felt surface for card games, a game board for chess or checkers, a desk with a leather writing surface and book rest. Tug at a hidden latch, and a spring-driven backgammon board pops up.

The brainchild of German cabinetmaker David Roentgen (1743–1807), this sophisticated gaming table once graced the intimate interior of an aristocratic European home. The exquisite piece was not only convenient for entertaining guests, but it was also portable—its legs unscrew so it can easily be packed and moved.

This 3-D animation of the table demonstrates its different configurations and illuminates its concealed features, including drawers for tucking away personal items and compartments for storing game pieces.

See Collections to learn more about this table.

This table is featured in the exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens (on view October 30, 2012–January 27, 2013).

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