Infamous Albemarle Club Gaming Table For Sale
August 1, 2010
The beautiful card table shown above has quite the decadent history. This antique games table was made for the Albemarle Club in London. The Albemarle Club was a private members' club founded in 1874 and open to both men and women. The club is most famous in the annals of history for being involved in the scandal that eventually led to Oscar Wilde's persecution. It was at this club where, in 1895, the Marquess of Queensberry burst in, demanding to see Oscar Wilde, who was a member of the club. The marquis left his calling card with a note "For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite" (sic), then a criminal accusation. Wilde claimed libel but was later prosecuted and faced prison and exile. The episode and resulting fall-out doomed his writing career and he eventually died in Paris at the age of 46.
The table is with New Orleans-based M.S. Rau Antiques and was made with Cuban mahogany and satinwood inlays. There is an elaborate key mechanism, inscribed "The Albemarle Club," at the center of the table. It has a series of locks that can only be opened by a set of brass keys. Six keys correspond to individual drawers on the table, and one large master key opens all six. The drawers contain game pieces and boards and each serves as a gaming station with its own sliding cocktail glass support and a compartment to store its own brass key. There aren't too many tables in the world like this and the listed price of $175,000 reflects the perfect blend of craftsmanship and exceptional provenance.