Objects with musical mechanism and automaton

Singing bird snuffbox, with key

    Singing bird snuffbox, with key

    Switzerland, Geneve

    Circa 1830

    Bruguier Charles-Abraham (Senior)

    Steel, brass, enamel, metal, painted feathers; casting, painted enamel, champlevé enamel, engraving

    7 x 9.8 x 6.15 cm


    Silvered rectangular case with spaced rounded vertical ribs in the form of semi-columns, decorated with vertical engraving. Hinged lid with painted enamel image of the Lake Geneva with Chillon Castle on the left bank, anglers in the foreground and mountains in the distance in oval frame with engraved leafy ornament is on the top panel. The image is surrounded by enamel rocailles with blue distance pieces. Musical trophies and bouquet of roses on blue background surrounded by wavy engraved frame are depicted on the lid inner side. Painted enamel images of red, blue and white flowers on blue background in curly medallions are to the right and left sides of the lid. The top side background is in the form of a regular structure of engraved quatrefoils in combination with black enamel. The top panel is framed by engraved ornament with blue inserts in the corners. The case lateral sides are decorated with wavy guilloché in upper half and engraving in the shape of a “picket fence” in the bottom half. Sliding lever for activating the singing bird movement is on the front side left upper part. The box rear side opens up on hinges revealing the gilded snuff compartment. Guilloché surface in the form of a braid, with engraved image of a flower bouquet, placed in its centre is on the box underside. The winding key square pin is next to it. When the movement is activated, the oval lid opens, and miniature bird in painted black, red, light blue and green feathers appears. It swirls in place, flaps its wings, opens and closes the beak. The sound movement imitates bird chirping. When the winding period finishes, the bird hides under the openwork lattice and the lid is closed. The bird movement is spring driven and key-winded.