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Antique table found in the UK, with a secret compartment full of hidden wires! Any idea?

A questioner said:

Antique table found in the UK, with a secret compartment full of hidden wires

r/whatisthisthing - Antique table found in the UK, with a secret compartment full of hidden wires

r/whatisthisthing - Antique table found in the UK, with a secret compartment full of hidden wires

r/whatisthisthing - Antique table found in the UK, with a secret compartment full of hidden wires

More info from the questioner:
Found this today. Shop owner thinks it is something to do with faking seances…age would be about right. Solid wood. Has a hidden nut and bolt on the underside, which opens up the top and reveals a secret compartment. This is full of electric wires. They don’t go anywhere or attach to anything. On each side of the table there is a little hole drilled, only just wide enough for a wire to come out. Wondering why you would need to hide electrics inside a table? Would make sense if you wanted to fake spirit activity with lights and sounds! Wanted to get opinions and ideas from you before I bought it – wouldn’t be interested if it was actually for something totally mundane.

Some of the people opinions on it:


“How cool is that! A fake séance table! What a find!”


“This is an electrophone table. The first live streaming! Looking beyond the one-to-one or person-to-person model of telephones we know and understand today, Bell and others suggested that the telephone could be used for one-to-many communication. Across the Western world, from Budapest to Dallas, engineers set to work creating ‘circular telephones’ – telephones that would be used to live-stream entertainment into the home. In France, Clement Ader had great success placing microphones along the footlights of theatrical performances and running telephone cables through the Parisian sewer network. The Théâtrophone was created in 1881, and shortly after a company in England bought the British patent for this technology. The Electrophone arrived in England, and the London Electrophone Company started trading in 1895.”


“I found it: Electrophone table, by National Telephone Company.”


“Séance table makes sense. I bet the wires were connected to electromagnets. I’m imagining a Ouija pointer moving around, apparently by itself. Notice the three-legged design. Allows people to huddle closely around the table. Specifically, three people: the medium, the believer, and the skeptic. The skeptic becomes next week’s believer, bringing a new skeptic, and thus new revenue.”


“Mysterious! Running the bundle of wires in a loop around the circumference of the table suggests to me that this might just possibly be some kind of electromagnetic prop designed to influence some magnetic object placed on the tabletop, but the strange thing is that if that’s correct it would create a vertical magnetic field. Perhaps it’s just a wiring loom and not a magnetic coil at all. The enormous number of terminals running to tappings all over the thing looks as if each of the larger holes drilled in the underside of the table corresponds to a set of four terminals connected to tappings from the wire bundle. Some of them have been removed and rewired, leaving only their mounting holes, so whatever this device’s original function was, was definitely modified at some point in its existence. Presumably, each of the holes had some kind of electric component fitted, maybe a selector switch, perhaps connected to a knob on each of the holes in the side walls. The metal pins aligned with some of these holes might also be electric contacts. There’s no obvious connection for power, so I’d guess this thing had a battery hidden inside the central compartment. It’s old; that fabric wire insulation is almost certainly pre-WWII, I’d guess this thing is 1920s at the very latest. One other possibility is that it’s the remains of some fairly unconventional early wireless set; when radio was first invented, there was a bit of a fashion for camouflaging domestic receivers as small pieces of ordinary furniture. If it was a crystal radio receiver, that’d also explain the absence of a power supply, as crystal sets are passive devices powered only by the energy of the radio waves themselves.”


“Ancient stand with radio receiver and multiple sockets for headphones? Also looks like the radio was removed.”


“I think it’s something similar to this Kiel Golden Voice table, a side table with (once) integrated radio.”


“A photo of the underneath would be interesting to see. I wonder why there is so much wear and tear around the middle hole?”


“I thought a radio device that listeners could sit around and plug into… shame we can’t see a wiring diagram!”


“It appears to be missing some components and/or its design has been altered at least once. For starters, every alternate side has one or two holes for what I assume would have been fake drawer pulls. However, the far side also has an additional hole off-center for some purpose and a screw terminal in between, which I speculate may at one time have been a control like a simple on/off switch. The single drawer-pull position on the left side shows indications of fading/wear in the finish and this may have been due to use as a control. The center hole at the bottom clearly has seen use/abuse but there is no clear indication of what it may have been. To the left and right, there are positions where screw terminals once had been located, as well as the side closest to the camera, but these terminals were later moved or taken out entirely. Ten larger, empty holes in the bottom suggest locations of controls or locations for additional missing pieces. Most of the wire terminals inside are missing connecting terminal screws and wiring, but the existing stub wiring suggests that there ARE missing parts. These would be things necessary for any kind of electrical function like battery, electric motor, and/or connections to external power sources. Whatever it was, however it worked, I think there’s probably a great deal more to it. A look at the underside of the top might itself be more enlightening, as well as the underside of the bottom to see if those larger holes penetrate entirely or not.”


“It looks like it used to have knobs on multiple sides. Some of the terminals are numbered.”


“I’ve no idea what it originally was for, but I like the idea that it was an electromechanical version of the electric shock game; dapper gents sitting around a table holding on to brass handles waiting to see who’s going to get zapped this time. If I owned this (and had no better idea of what it used to be) I’d totally drop one of those ten-quid shock games inside and add some brass handles for contacts.”


“Surely if it was a fake séance table it would have holes all around the edge that suggest something was connected, whoever would have these would surely only have a hole on one side.”


“The wiring and holes in the sides make me think it was a game of some sort. I’m also not sure that the color of the top matches the rest of it.”


“Maybe a spy table for listening in on secret conversations.”


“Table for a stock ticker. They were specialized telegraphs conveying stock prices. Looks like someone took the ticker off and discarded the table?”


“I don’t know about the wires but the table itself looks like it could be a Victorian sewing table, which would typically have a lid and a compartment where sewing notions were kept, and was often hexagon-shaped. I would guess the table started its life as a sewing table and was converted to … whatever it was converted to … later on.”


“When I was a kid, our local amusement park had a penny arcade museum full of entertainment devices from the Victorian era. This table looks like one particular device that I remember vividly: the shock machine/love tester. The holes on the side had a metal knob that you would put your hands on and up through the middle (missing in the example photo) was a tower of lights mounted to the middle that would progressively turn on going up as the voltage increased as a game seeing who could hold on the longest. Being that old they all would have been unique original pieces (not mass-produced) so likely an existing table was used and outfitted with the electric components. Maybe it was one of the earliest ones before they standardized and became more recognizable as the cabinets seen in the early 1900s.”


“I would argue it is not meant to deceive people who use it or the holes on the sides would not be visible, because nobody would want to show that knobs were being used to manipulate the electrical current if it was meant to fool people. My guess is it is either a parlor game or involved with initiation into a secret society.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comment!


In a quaint village nestled in the heart of the United Kingdom, an unexpected discovery has captured the imagination of historians and antique enthusiasts alike. A seemingly ordinary antique table, dating back to the late 18th century, has revealed a secret that bridges the gap between past and present: a hidden compartment filled with an intricate network of wires.

The Find

The table, an exquisite example of Georgian craftsmanship, was discovered in the attic of a centuries-old estate undergoing renovations. The homeowner, Mr. James Thompson, had inherited the estate from his great-grandparents and decided it was time to restore it to its former glory. During the process, workers stumbled upon the table, dusty and seemingly untouched for decades.

“I initially thought it was just another beautiful piece of furniture,” Mr. Thompson recounted. “But when we moved it, we heard something clinking inside. It was a sound that didn’t quite match the era of the table.”

Uncovering the Secret

Curiosity piqued, Mr. Thompson and the restoration team decided to investigate further. Upon closer inspection, they found a hidden latch cleverly concealed within the ornate carvings. With careful maneuvering, they managed to open the secret compartment. To their astonishment, inside lay a tangled mass of wires, metal components, and what appeared to be early electrical connectors.

Dr. Emily Harrington, a local historian specializing in Georgian-era artifacts, was called in to examine the find. “This is an extraordinary discovery,” she exclaimed. “The craftsmanship of the hidden compartment is impeccable, suggesting it was made by a skilled artisan. The presence of the wires, however, is an enigma.”

Theories and Speculations

The discovery has sparked numerous theories among historians and antique experts. One prevailing hypothesis is that the table might have been modified during the Victorian era, a time when electrical experimentation was becoming more prevalent. It is possible that the table served as a clandestine communication device or an early experiment in electrical wiring.

Another intriguing theory suggests that the table might have belonged to a secret society or been used for espionage. The hidden wires could have facilitated covert operations, allowing messages to be transmitted or received without drawing suspicion.

Dr. Harrington, however, remains cautious. “While these theories are fascinating, we must approach them with a critical mind. Further analysis of the materials and design will provide more concrete answers.”

A Glimpse into the Past

The table’s discovery offers a rare glimpse into the ingenuity and creativity of past generations. It serves as a reminder that our ancestors were not only skilled craftsmen but also pioneers in technological innovation. The hidden wires represent a bridge between eras, connecting the elegance of Georgian furniture with the burgeoning curiosity of the Victorian age.

As the investigation continues, the table has been placed on display at the local museum, attracting visitors from near and far. Mr. Thompson, proud of his family’s unexpected contribution to history, hopes that the table will inspire others to look at their own heirlooms with renewed curiosity.

“Who knows what secrets our old belongings might hold?” he mused. “Sometimes, the most ordinary things can tell the most extraordinary stories.”


The antique table discovered in the UK, with its secret compartment full of hidden wires, is a testament to the timeless allure of mystery and the enduring human spirit of discovery. As experts continue to unravel its secrets, it stands as a symbol of the unending quest for knowledge and the unexpected treasures that lie hidden in the most unlikely places.

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