Cylinder Musical Boxes

Coin-operated musical box with automaton

    Coin-operated musical box with automaton

    Switzerland, Saint Croix

    Circa 1900

    Mermod Frères

    Wood, metal, glass, papier-mâché; painting, varnishing, carpentry and mechanical work

    62 x 47 x 83 cm, 24.5 kg

    On the movement: “88906”; on the cylinder: “3984”; on the sound comb the mark is in the shape the Greek cross, combined with letter S. On the melody index nameplate the image of heraldic shield with the Greek cross entwined with the letter S and inscription: “MF 1816”; on the index scale: “CHANGE / AT WILL / CHANGE - REPEAT” and numbers from 1 to 8; below - the Greek cross with the inscription inside: “SWISS”


    Coin-operated musical box with automaton in walnut veneered wooden rectangular case. Carved ornately-shaped finial is on the case top. The glazed door with hinges and dead lock is on the facade center. A slot for coins with metal onlay is on the left side. Flat drawer with dead lock is in the bottom part. An aperture for the crank is on the right side. Musical movement with pinned cylinder for eight tunes, sound comb and  coin-operated activator is installed inside the case. Movement is mounted on cast chassis. The mechanism is winded by a removable handle through an aperture in the case left side. ear the  performed tune's number indicator is near the left tip of the cylinder, that looks like the nameplate with figures and inscriptions. Round knob with arrow and knurling enables to select tunes manually. The lever displugs automatic change of tunes. Automaton - fair flip-flap, that has the form of four boats of different colors and a carousel with figures of men in bright clothes ,is fixed on the shelf behind the musical movement. The painted landscape is on the rear side. The inner space is illuminated by electric bulb that is switched on during the mechanism operation. The musical box is activated by the coin, that is dropped in the slot of the coin selector. Crank, key for the drawer, door locking key and  handwritten list of tunes are in the set.
    In 1887, Auguste Lasser, the owner of the manufactory in Saint-Croix, that produced musical boxes, signed a contract with the Jura-Simplon railway company for the installation and maintenance of coin operated musical boxes in the waiting rooms at the Swiss railway stations.