Cylinder Musical Boxes

Coin-operated musical box with automaton

    Coin-operated musical box with automaton

    Switzerland, St-Croix

    Late 19th centuries

    Auguste Lassueur, Paillard & Co

    Wood (walnut, birch, rosewood), metal, glass, brass, fabric (velvet, silk, cotton), cardboard; casting, polishing, carpentry, mechanical and electrical work

    74 х 40 х 90 cm, 32 kg

    On moulding onlay: “Musique Automatique”, on the internal label: “Sublime Harmonie” and list of eight tunes in French


    Musical box in rectangular walnut veneered wooden case is mounted on high socle. Carved ornately shaped finial crowns the case. Openwork perforated carving, tightened with red cloth from the inner side is on the frieze. The front side of the case is in the form of the glazed door, decorated with frames-shaped intarsia comprised of fine wood. A coin selector slot and keyhole with metal onlays are on the right side of the window. A pullout drawer with mortise lock behind decorative onlay with cast handle is below the door. Side-scenes and proscenium border from red fabric with golden trimming are fixed on the door inner side.

    Musical movement comprised of pinned cylinder for eight tunes, sound comb, six bells and six colored butterflies shaped hummers and small drum is mounted inside the case. The melodies change automatically. The movement is mounted on cast chassis. The movement is winded by removable crank through an aperture in the case left lateral side. The performed tune number indicator is near the cylinder left tip.

    Paper label with handwritten list of tunes in ornamental vignette is located on the case rear inner side. A platform with three dancing female figures is mounted in the foreground. The figures are in multicolored dresses trimmed with shiny beads. Electric light bulbs illuminate the internal space. The musical box is activated by a coin dropped into the coin selector. Electric cord with plug is on the case rear side. The crank, a key from the pullout drawer a key that locks the door are in the set.

    Auguste Lassueur, the owner of the music box manufactory in Saint-Croix, signed a contract with the Jura–Simplon Railway for installation and maintenance of coin-operated musical boxes in the waiting rooms at Swiss railway stations in 1887.