A Louis XVI Tric-Trac Table

French
18th century

Reference#: EF1749

Height: 29 inches
Width: 45 inches
Depth: 24 inches

The rectangular mahogany table fitted with a removable top, the case supported by four fluted legs on bronze castors. Two drawers fitted with a lock on either side hold wooden playing pieces: one with chess pieces and another with counter pieces. The top inlaid with a green leather writing surface having a tooled and gilded border, the reverse side covered with a green baize playing surface. The shallow interior lined with ebony and divided into two compartments, each inlaid with alternate white and green-stained bone points for backgammon. The edge of the table is inset with twelve bone holes for scoring pegs (fiches). There is a similar hole at either end for silver candleholders.

Gaming was a favorite pastime in eighteenth-century France. Of the many games played, tric-trac, a form of backgammon, was one of the most popular. Backgammon had been a traditional pastime since ancient Rome; excavations at Pompeii revealed carved stone backgammon boards in the courtyards of almost every villa. In France tric-trac gained popularity over other versions of backgammon beginning in the sixteenth century. The game had originally been played on a portable board, while the first tables produced with permanent boards appeared in the early 18th century. Almost from the outset these tables were made as multipurpose pieces, being used as writing tables when the reversible tops were placed with the leather surface turned upward, card tables when the tops were turned and the baize surface was exposed, or as a tric-trac when the top was removed altogether.

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