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Giovanni Socci's Incredible Transforming Mechanical Desk

Tucked away in the Louvre is this odd-looking elliptical table.

A museum-goer could be forgiven for assuming the base was a modern-day add-on for staging purposes, but the sharp-eyed might notice the odd center leg, as well as the track leading up to it. What the heck are those for?

Sadly we couldn’t locate any video, but this GIF does demonstrate the table’s function:

It was constructed by Giovanni Socci, an Italian craftsman from Florence, at some point during the 1800s. And it wasn’t the only one he built. Socci, part of a family of craftsmen that supplied furniture for Florentine palaces and assorted royalty, apparently produced at least four of these according to France’s Clostermann Antiques. In their description, they reveal that the act of pulling the chair out is what causes the desk to transform: “The counterweights and gear mechanism, when pulling the Chair, by this single gesture opens the plateau—releasing a small grandstand forming reading Secretary topped with goatskin.”

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