Believe it or not, college fraternities did not invent the drinking game (okay, maybe beer pong but who wants to play that except idiot douchebags?). Consuming alcoholic beverages and playing games simultaneously dates back to antiquity. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston just opened the brand new Kunstkammer Gallery, which is similar to a collector’s cabinet in that it displays over a hundred intricately crafted oddities of dissimilar origin made of exotic materials, like coconut shells and intricate metalwork. One such item is a mechanized wine vessel that’s been brought back to life after 200 years, proving that European aristocrats knew how to live like it was 1699. Apparently back in the 17th century automata were pulled out to impress friends at dinner parties. The Diana and Stag Automaton, which moves and zig-zags across the table, was created in about 1610-1620 by Joachim Fries, a famous German goldsmith. It is called ‘Trinkspiel’, which literally translates to ‘drinking game’.
Take that, frats! This is how it works – the host of the party would remove the stag’s head and fill the cavity with wine. Then he or she would crank the device’s key and send it buzzing around the table. If the automaton stopped in front of you, it would be your duty to drain the ornate vessel without it spilling all over your fabulous clothes. Anyway, the mechanical object was restored with the help of German watchmaker Rolf Lang, who re-created its original motor. Here is a video of the automaton all wound up. And if you think this is a one-of-a-kind item, there is another “Diana and Stag” with its original mechanism at the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, which makes me wonder if these things were the plastic cup of their day?