Stuff of Dreams, n. 3: Mechanical Reading, Writing, and Toilette Table

If I were given a chance to own just one among all the finest things from the eighteenth century, it would be this.

The mechanical table in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Take your key into the key hole on the right side,

and watch it transform!

The key activates the iron mechanism inside the table, sliding the writing surface upward to reveal secret compartments.

Complete with a writing surface that doubles as a book rest, lidded compartments and side drawers to store your letters and the essentials of the toilette, this portable table is a truly multifunctional piece of furniture.

And it is drop-dead gorgeous!!

The delicately sinuous curves of the table top, the gilt bronze mounts, the floral marquetry design on the table top…

…and I am dizzy.

Why do we not make things like this anymore???

Mechanical Reading, Writing, and Toilette Table
Jean-François Oeben
Paris, France
c. 1750
oak veneered with kingwood, amaranth, bloodwood, holly, and various stained exotic woods; drawers of juniper; iron mechanism; silk; gilt-bronze mounts
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

You can watch the mechanism at work in this video from the J. Paul Getty Museum:

2 thoughts on “Stuff of Dreams, n. 3: Mechanical Reading, Writing, and Toilette Table

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