Objects with musical mechanism and automaton

Singing bird snuffbox

    Singing bird snuffbox


    circa 1820


    Gold, feathers , brass, steel, leather, fabric (satin, velvet); guilloche, engraving, polishing, enamel, champlevé enamel

    3.3 x 8.8 x 5.9 cm, 423 gr

    French marks for imported goldware - "owl" in oval. Illegible stamps in vertical lozenges on the upper lid inner side. On the insert with printed text: “Musical singing bird box by Fréres Rochat, Geneva, c. 1825, 26067, mfttt”. On the insert with hand-written text: “Fréres Rochat Geneva c.1825 W26067, mfttt.xx”. On the stamp inside the box lid: “ By Appointment Antique Dealers S.J. Phillips Ltd. 139 New Bond St. London. W1.”


    Music singing bird box of rounded rectangular form, with three hinged lids. Engine turned with concentric circle patterns on all sides with blue enamel scrolling foliage or scallop borders. The top with oval medallion featuring an ancient classical profile of a man in a laurel wreath. A guilloche field with winding apertures for the music and the bird. The lid inner side is mirror-polished. Engine turned field in a frame with ornament of flame palmettas of blue emerald enamel is on the lateral panels. A polished inner compartment for tobacco with stamps and two inserted labels with printed and handwritten text is under the bottom lid. Music and bird movements are separately winded, the music playing on two combs that are stacked with nine teeth each using a “Favre”-type movement, the bird movement with fusee put in motion by a pair of separate slides mounted on the outside of the box. When the bird's movement is turned on, the oval lid opens and a miniature bird in painted feathers appears. It swirls in place, flaps its wings, turns the head, opens and closes the beak. The sound movement imitates bird chirping. At the end of the program, the bird hides in a deepening in a blue enamel field with polychrome champlevé enamel ornament of golden branches, flowers and leaves. The lid closes. The snuffbox is stored in a box of embossed Bordeaux leather with a button, the inner box surface is covered with dark red velvet, the lid – with white satin with an impress of the seller's stamp on it.