Objects with musical mechanism and automaton

Snuffbox with automaton and watch insert

    Snuffbox with automaton and watch insert

    Switzerland, Geneve



    Gold, brass, steel, glass; chasing, enamel, champlevé enamel

    84 x 60 x 32 cm

    A half-effaced inscription on the bottom: "Taken from the Summer Palace, Peking, 8th October 1860. N.S." On the watch lid: "Recordon & Dupont London"

    Gold enamel snuffbox in twelve-cornered case with two opening lids – on the top and on the bottom. The main decorative motif is an enamel ornament of short dark strokes on a light blue background with thin golden open-work elements. Four narrow sides are decorated with the images of flowers, fruits, birds, crowns and festoons with decorative tassels on a dark blue enamel background over the engraved surface in a narrow white frame. Narrow vertical apertures for the sound output are cut in the ribs. A watch with white enamel dial, black Roman numerals, indicating hours; minute graduations, Arabic numerals indicating a quarter of an hour and three central openwork golden hands is mounted on the upper lid. There is a narrow trimming with white flowers, blue and gold branches on a dark blue background along the perimeter of the upper side. An image of two musicians and a girl listening to them en plain air, performed in the technique of painted enamel is on the external side of the bottom lid. An oval medallion with a painted enamel image of a flower bouquet on a blue background is on the inner side. A polished groove with a half-erased inscription for snuff tobacco is under the lid. A watch movement with a cylinder escapement is fixed on the internal side of the upper lid. It is covered with a cuvette with an engraved inscription and keyholes. A skeleton pattern musical movement with a fusee, program cylinder and carillon is mounted inside the snuffbox. A knob on the front panel to the right turns on the movement. It performs one tune with steel hammers on the carillon made of five steel bells. The snuffbox was made for the Chinese Imperial Court around 1785, was withdrawn from the Summer Imperial Palace in Beijing on October 8, 1860.