Fair and Square: How a roulette table commissioned by a King resolved a dispute
Great inventor Sir Hiram Maxim was called upon to build furniture to test a Lord's ideas
Every now and then in the world of collectibles you come across a piece which captures a great little story, and this specially manufactured antique games table is exactly that.
The attractive piece of furniture includes a roulette wheel, and that wheel saw a duel over a game of chance between an inventor and a gambler - at the behest of a King.
Lord Rosslyn was the gambler. A keen studier of the game of roulette, he boasted that he had worked out a system which would break the bank at any casino which played a fair game of roulette - but, he told King Edward VII, he could not show this because all the roulette tables in casinos in England and the continent were fixed.
The King was not prepared to take him at his word, but instead called on the great American inventor Sir Hiram Maxim. The man who created the first fully-automatic portable machine gun and arguably the lightbulb.
However, the King's request was that he build a piece of furniture which would act more like one of his other inventions - the mousetrap. The request was simple: a fair, palpably unfixable roulette table at which Rosslyn would be offered the tantalizing chance to test his ideas.
The American had the fine example of gaming furniture put together in 1907, and in September 1908 all were ready for the games to commence.
Maxim did not play roulette himself, (though his wife did - with some success) but back in 1904 he had published a book: Monte Carlo: Facts and Fallacies which claimed to be the last word on the probabilities of gambling. He already knew of Rosslyn, crediting him with one of the more impressive winning streaks he'd heard of.
Nevertheless, he seems not to have been impressed with the Lord's system and happily took his place on the other side of the table in a Piccadilly flat.
The story caught the public interest and was tracked closely in both Britain and America - even though the royal link was not known as Edward VII initially thought it better to keep his name out of it. Ten days later, the Lord had exhausted his gambling chips and was forced to concede that his system was fallible.
Following this conclusion, the legendary piece of antique furniture remained at Hiram Maxim's South London house - where King Edward would sometimes visit and bet on a spin or two. It was passed down through the inventor's family and has finally come onto the market.
A one of a kind piece with a unique history it will make one collector an excellent investment - unless they start betting money on it.
For more information on buying the table contact us by clicking here or call +44 (0) 117 933 9503
Recent and Related Articles...
· Collectors can buy the lifestyle of an architect at this Paris auction | 29 September 2010
The furniture, art and architectural models of Le Corbusier and other design legends is up for sale
· How do you furnish a £199m flat with collectibles? | 17 September 2010
With news that the Candy brothers have sold a £199m flat, we imagine how to furnish it
The furnishing used by the King to visit his mistress Mrs Fitzherbert will sell from Chatsworth House
· Five top pieces of British Royal Family memorabilia | 8 April 2010
Amidst rumours of marriage between Prince William and Kate Middleton, here are five Royal collectibles
· Collectors can take a gamble in Vegas | 5 March 2010
An auction of Victorian casino antiques will hope to cash in big-time, later this month