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Chess Table #2001-1430

Maple chess table; top with cut corners and chess board made out of red cedar and silky oak inset into centre, opposing drawers with central black plastic knob on each; on four square section tapering legs.


This chess table was designed in 1926 by the Federal Capital Commission Architects Department, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for Provisional Parliament House. This table was manufactured by one of the six firms that were contracted to construct Murdoch’s designs (Myer Emporium Pty Ltd, Anthony Hordern and Sons, A Pengelly and Co, W H Rocke and Co, Beard Watson & Co, and Bebarfalds Ltd).

This chess table is one example of the recreational furniture and facilities provided to parliamentarians working in Provisional Parliament House. Consideration was given to the displacement of parliamentarians from their homes and the long hours they spent at the building. Chess, card, billiard and snooker tables are some examples of the furniture provided for recreation. Parliamentarians and press representatives also had access to dining rooms, bars and games rooms at the Provisional Parliament House.

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Statement of values

This chess table is significant as a component of the Heritage Collection, which comprises those pieces of furniture which were used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1924 and 1988. The collection has associations with the process of government, the ceremonial, administrative, promotional and recreational functions conducted within the building, and with the individuals who governed Australia between 1927 and 1988. The building is a primary example of the Inter War Stripped Classical style of architecture prominent in Canberra’s government architecture of the 1920s to 1940s. The characteristic expression of the building’s style is due to the design work of the Commonwealth’s first government architect, John Smith Murdoch. The Old Parliament House building has a richness of internal fabric and collections, which include the purpose designed furniture and furnishings, that convey the way in which parliamentary functions were conducted, the everyday use of the building, and the hierarchical nature of parliamentary staffing practices. This furniture is significant as it has remained within the building for which it was designed.


Width 680mm
Height 770mm
Depth 680mm
Medium Maple; red cedar; silky oak; timber; brass; plastic
Creator’s name Federal Capital Commission Architects Department
Date created 1926