Objects with Movement

Musical snuffbox with automaton

    Musical snuffbox with automaton

    Switzerland, Geneve


    Golay Louis, Sène & Detalla à Gèneve

    Brass, steel, glass; engraving, chasing, enamel over guilloche, champleve enamel, painted enamel, guilloche, polishing

    9.8 x 6 x 4 cm, 455 g

    Marks in the tobacco compartment: ”S&D”, inscription on the movement: ”Golay 1804”. Inside the box: ”By Appointment Antique Dealers S.J. Phillips, 139 New Bond Street, London W.1.”


    Gold rectangular snuffbox with bevelled vertical ribs and hinged top and bottom lids. A chain of half-pearls frames transparent top lid. An automaton is under the lid, on painted enamel background with a mountain landscape and a lake. The volumetric automaton elements, made of four-coloured gold, are on the foreground: a magician in a robe and a pointed cap with a magic wand in one hand and a spell book in the other, standing in front of a round altar, twined with garlands of golden leaves with ribbons, a snake and a skull with bones at the magician feet and, in the distance - an incense burner. Trees with curved trunks and colorful leaves surround the whole scenery. An aperture for the crown with a square pin is in the upper right hand corner. When the movement is activated, the magician turns to his book and waves his magic wand, at the same moment a vase suddenly appears on the altar. After a new movement of the hand, a bush with red berries appears from the vase. The action is repeated and a small bird in motley plumage takes off to the top of the bush. The bird sings, its wings and tail are moving simultaneously, the beak opens and closes. While the bird singing sounds, the magician conducts his magic wand - as if he is conducting a singing lesson. After the bird stops singing the magician again waves his wand, and all three objects disappear. The movement-activating knob is on the right side. Enamel miniatures surrounded by blue enamel frames with fine engraving on blue enamel background are on the snuffbox lateral sides. The miniatures depict scenes from rural life. Guilloche field under transparent blue enamel is on the bottom lid. Engraved enamel image of a vase with flowers is in the center. White meander border in combination with the fans of blue and golden leaves of four-petalled blue flowers is along the perimeter. The lid inner surface and tobacco compartment are mirror-polished.

    Two master’s marks are on them. Brass crown with a conical rod, steel insert and oval grip.
    Rectangular box, covered with brown leather of later origin.


    Инв. 2977/ДПИ