Maysville Kentucky Blog

The Maysville Kentucky Blog is your guide to the beautiful and historic small town of Maysville Kentucky, snuggled into the rolling hills along the Ohio River. Though this blog has been discontinued, you can get your Maysville Kentucky fix over at Ken Downing's Mason County Kentucky Blog @

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mystery Table at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum

While at the Chocolate Festival over the weekend, I decided to stop in at the Harriet Beecher Stowe: Slavery to Freedom museum. I mean, I might as well, it was right next door to the Cajun Gumbo booth. While looking around at the various displays of antique furniture and artifacts, many of them from the surrounding grounds, I overheard a conversation about a table in the main room.

It looks like a normal antique table.

But, as the tour guide explained, when they went to move the table into the main room, it took five full-grown men to move it. Obviously this was no ordinary table. As the table shifted, they also heard a noise from inside that sounded like a piano.

No one seems to know exactly what the table is. It's... a mystery table. While there are seams on the top, there's no visible hinges and no discernible way to open the thing. It also weighs a ton, and the table top is a few inches in height, much like a pool table. Could there be a hidden piano inside?

It certainly doesn't look like a traditional piano. As I mentioned, there's no obvious way to open it, so it's anyone's guess as to whether there are hidden piano keys and other mechanisms inside.

After searching around on the web, I did find one possible explanation.

Pictured left is a cylinder-played music box piano from the late 1800s. It's like one of those self-playing pianos you see in old western movies. These devices are reportedly rare, so there's not much information about them available. The one pictured here is about 3 feet long which is almost as long as the one at the Harriet Beecher Stowe museum, give or take a foot.

Do the folks over at the museum have a secret music box in their main room?

One thing is certain about this mystery, it's not an easy one to solve. The only real way to answer the question of what's inside is to, of course, open it up. The only problem is that the table is like a chinese puzzle-box, and it's not giving up its secrets that easily.

According to the tour guide, anyone is welcome to give their theories on how to open the contraption, with much appreciation.



Ther are portable x-ray machines. We use them in construction to view the inside of welds. I expect there may be local companies that may be interested if contacted. The surrounding power plants would use these companies during construction periods. Of course, this service isn't free.

9:17 AM
Jeremy said...

I don't know much about X-Ray machines. Do they have portable ones? If so I'd really like to take one to an 1800s safe my folks found in their turn of the century building they bought about two years ago. I'm sure the people who run the museum wouldn't be opposed to having someone swipe a metal detector over it though. They're very interested in finding out what's inside. If there's any volunteers.

12:14 PM

Would it be possible to x-ray the table to identify the contents if any?

10:23 AM

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