Exhibit in details: Musical snuffbox with automaton
Singing bird boxes, musical cigarette boxes snuff boxes, music necessaires with automaton or singing bird, musical inkstands and writing sets are presented in the museum Collection section "Objects with Movement". More than ten items from this section of the collection were granted the status of "Science and Technology High-level Achievement”*
One of them is Musical snuffbox with automaton. Made in the 1800s in Switzerland, Geneve by Golay Louis, Sène & Detalla à Gèneve.
Gold rectangular snuffbox with bevelled vertical ribs and hinged upper and bottom lids. Chain of half-pearls frames transparent upper lid. The automaton is under the lid, on painted enamel background with mountain landscape and lake. The automaton volumetric elements made of four-colour gold, are on the foreground - a magician dressed in the robe and pointed cap with magic wand in one hand and a spell book in the other, stands in front of round altar, twined with garlands of golden leaves with ribbons; a snake and a skull with bones are at the magician's feet and, in the distance - an incense burner. Trees with curved trunks and colorful leaves surround the whole scenery. 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 the next waving of his hand, a bush with red berries appears from the vase. The gesture is repeated and a small bird in motley plumage takes off to the top of the bush. The bird sings, its wings and tail move simultaneously, the beak opens and closes. While the bird is singing, the magician waves his magic wand - as if conducting a singing lesson. After the bird stops singing the magician again waves his wand, and all three objects disappear. Enamel miniatures rimmed with blue enamel frames with fine engraving on blue enamel background are on the snuffbox lateral sides. The miniatures feature scenes from rural life. Guilloche field under transparent blue enamel is on the bottom lid. Engraved enamel image of 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 maker's marks are inside the box.
* In Russian legislation, references to Science and Technology High-level Achievements are found in the constitutional charter of the Russian Federation on the protection of cultural and nature heritage No. 73-FZ of 2002 (see article No. 3). The generally accepted definition states, "A Science and Technology High-level Achievement is a material object associated (directly or indirectly) with the pasted off benchmarks of science and technology, requiring, in accordance with its social or scientific significance, preservation and use in the general system of culture" (Bubnov I.E. Science and Technology High-level Achievements: some practical and theoretic issues". Natural history and technology issues", 1981, No. 1, p. 66