Cylinder Musical Boxes

Coin-operated musical box with automaton

    Coin-operated musical box with automaton

    Switzerland, Geneve

    Circa 1890

    Mermod Frères

    Wood, metal, glass, fabric; mechanical, carpentry and electrical works

    28х48х59 cm, 35 kg

    On the nameplate near the speed controller: “PATENTED/SWITZERLAND” and patent numbers from 1885 to 1890. On the parachute nameplate: “PARACHUTE/MERMOD/BREVETE”. On the mode selector plate: “TO CHANGE/AT WILL/CHANGE/REPEAT”, tunes indicator from 1 to 6, image of the shield with cross entwined with the letter “S”, letters “MF” and numerals “1816”, the image of a right angle cross with the inscription inside: “SWISS”. On the speed controller “SLOW/FAST”


    Musical box in wooden rectangular polished veneered case stands on the socle with four feet. Carved ornately shaped finial is on the case top. The front side is a glazed door with chiselled columns on its both sides. Coin acceptor slot with metal onlay is near the right column. Curtains and lambrequin made of dark red fabric with welt are fixed on the door inner side. Musical movement with pinned cylinder, sound comb and six bells on horizontal axis is fixed in the case inner part that features the stage with glassy background scenery. The movement is mounted on the cast chassis. The spring motor is mounted in-line (in coaxial relationship) with the pinned cylinder and equipped with special device – a parachute, which provides an opportunity to change cylinders. The mechanism is winded by detachable crank through an aperture in the case right side. The play back mode switch is near the cylinder left flat end. It makes possible playing of a tune continuously, changing a tune after each playback, or select one of six tunes manually. The speed controller is near the motor. Lyre-shaped movable bracket with damper is fixed on metal bar above the sound comb. The automaton in the form of six female figurines, simulating an orchestra, is fixed at the back of the stage. Three figurines are holding hammers in their hands, with which they hit the bells, two other are holding musical instruments, one figurine is dancing with a fan in its hand. The lever on the chassis front side can switch off the bells’ striking.

    When the movement is activated, the stage is illuminated by the electric lamp mounted above the automaton. Coin-operated musical box is turned on by a coin dropped into the coin accepter slot. Pullout drawer for coins is on the socle right side. The crank and the door-locking key are in the set.