Bridge History: The Hammond Electric Bridge Table

Bridge History: The Hammond Electric Bridge Table

We love things made by companies that are usually known for making other things. One example is the original series Shergold bass guitar, from a company originally known for making furniture – and then one deep, sweet blues tone! Another example relevant to bridge is the Hammond Electric Bridge Table, made by the Hammond Clock Company.

So Who Was Hammond?

Laurens Hammond was an entrepreneur and inventor. It’s likely that you’ve already been close to one of his inventions already. He takes credit for the invention of the Hammond Organ and the Novachord, a precursor to what would later give us keyboards, synthesizers and heavy metal.

Registering 110 different patents during his lifetime, his inventions also included the Hammond clock, and work on a guidance system that later led to modern guided missiles while he acted as a civilian consultant during WW2.

His obituary (1973) can be found at the NY Times Archive. Quoted in the obituary, he says; “You have to have some talent and luck; luck is very important. You should keep looking for new ideas.”

The Hammond Electric Bridge Table

The Hammond Electric Bridge Table was released somewhere before Christmas in 1932.

At first glance, it looks more like a spiritualist gadget that you might have used to fake a séance – but not quite. What it actually does is automatic card shuffling. Players insert a deck of cards, which is fed through to the internal mechanism of the table. There, the cards are distributed to the players at random (instead of shuffling the entire deck). World’s greatest boon to tired Bridge players!

Apparently, it didn’t sell too well at the time, and was largely considered an over-the-top gadget that most people didn’t need or want.

Depending on the condition you can find one of these in, their value is estimated at $500 to $1, 400.

For some good images check out Organhouse.com.

Want to see more? You can see the entire patent diagram for the table at this link.

To provide an improved automatic card dealing mechanism incorporated in the top of a bridge table, in which the deck of playing cards may be placed, and which will automatically perform the function of shut fling and dealing the hands to the players in a manner such that no cards will be exposed and such that the distribution of the cards cannot be predicted.

We think it’s super cool! For some reason we can see one of these fitting in perfectly right in the middle of 22B Baker Street.

By Alex J. Coyne

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