This remarkable table has an intricate mechanism concealed beneath the marble top which is activated by one of the frieze mounts. When this mount is pulled and released, the interior revolves, locking open and locking shut with subsequent pulls of the mount. The table was no doubt conceived to amuse through its mechanical intricacies, which could effortlessly convert the table from an open display piece to a sealed coffre fort. Although not attributable to him, its clever mechanism betrays the influence of the Neuwied cabinet-maker David Roentgen (1743-1807), who had sparked a craze throughout Europe for his ingenious inventions, with his furniture often incorporating spring-loaded drawers and compartments. This was reflected in the position he gained of 'ébéniste-mécanicien du Roi et de la Reine' in 1785.
The brand of 'CP' with an Earl's coronet on the underside of this remarkable table is almost certainly that of Catherine, Countess of Pembroke (1783-1856), the second wife of George 11th Earl of Pembroke
(1759-1827), and daughter of Simon Romanovitch, 3rd Count Woronzow, the Russian ambassador to the court of St. James's.
A number of pieces bearing this brand remain in the collections of her descendants. She was an avid collector, buying at the great collection sales of the period, including the celebrated Wanstead House sale in 1822.
Catherine's stepson, Robert Henry Herbert, later 12th Earl of Pembroke (1791-1862), was also a renowned collector of French furniture from the ancien régime, lavishly furnishing houses on Carlton House Terrace in London and 19 Place Vendôme in Paris, where he lived for much of his life. Lord Hertford was an enthusiastic buyer at the sales of his collection in 1851 and 1862, and many of Lord Pembroke's pieces are now in the Wallace Collection.