Disc Musical Boxes

Disc musical box "Stella" with automaton

    Disc musical box "Stella" with automaton

    Switzerland / France, Saint Croix / Paris

    The 1910-1920s

    Vichy, Gustave , Mermod Frères – musical movement

    Wood, metal, papier-mâché, fabric, silk, cardboard; carving, painting, varnishing, polishing

    76 х 55 х 234 cm

    Inscription on the moulding and chassis: “ Stella”; on the frieze: “MUSIQUE-AUTOMATE-METTEZ 10CENT”, on the plate: “MERMOD FRERES / Ste CROIX / SUISSE”, near control lever “LENT/ VITE” (slow/ fast); on the disc: “St C”, “SWISS”, “DENZA”, “Funiculi Funicula lammo”, “5494”, “STELLA”


    Disc musical box with automaton is mounted in walnut veneered wooden case, on the socle with two drawers with handles and four chiselled feet. Ornately shaped finial with phials on the ribby cornice, carved inscription “Stella” and inscription “MUSIQUE-AUTOMATE-METTEZ 10CENT” is on the frieze. The opening glazed door with an arch, slotted corners and chiseled columns is on the case upper part front side. A bust of the smiling clown in bright clothes, with a fool’s cap on the head, with moving shoulders, arms and eyelids is mounted inside, on the platform that is covered with black velvet with a nickel-plated plaque and inscription: “MERMOD FRERES / Ste CROIX / SUISSE”. Acoustic window with slotted pattern, the same as the corners, covered with red fabric from the internal side, is beneath the door. Metal plate with coin slot is on the right-hand side, onlay with automaton winding crank and a door with metal band for the lock are above it. Musical movement crank, a lever for adjusting disk rotation speed and ornately shaped keyhole plate are on the case right side lower part.

    Golden color ribby chassis with the inscription “Stella” and a five-pointed star with the letters “St C” in the center is fixed inside, behind the glazed door with carved pilasters.

    Musical movement is mounted on it: driving wheel with bevel teeth is below, a swivel bar with clamping rollers, two sound combs with one hundred fifty-four teeth and axis with a set of star wheels between them, designed to transfer force from the dick pin to the sound comb tooth. A bracket with the fixed axis, which is mating with the disc central aperture and two horizontal stoppers for the disk are above. Spring disk driving mechanism, disk rotation speed centrifugal governor are below it. Activating lever, coin groove, quadrilateral funnel with an aperture in the bottom panel through which a coin falls into the box are on the right side.

    When a 10 centime coin is inserted and the springs are winded, the automaton movement and musical disk mechanism are activated, the coin goes through the groove into the coin box, the disk rotates, the pins touch the corresponding sprocket wheels, which, in turn, the teeth of the sound combs, the melody sounds, at the same time the clown claps his hands, shrug the shoulders, opens and closes his eyes. 50 cm diameter disc with the edge perforation, inscriptions and three apertures in the disk center, stops automatically, the clown stops moving. The case is a resonator. The set includes a disc, two handles and a key.

    The melody "Funiculi Funicula" by Luigi Denza, written in 1880 to mark the opening of the first cable railway on the Mount Vesuvius to the text of the Italian journalist Peppino Turco is encoded on the disc.