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Fine & Rare Musical Automaton Sells for £13,000

2nd February 2023.

A fine and rare coin-operated carousel musical automaton, almost certainly made in Switzerland circa 1895 by Bornand Frères, sold for £13,000 (plus buyer’s premium) in Tennants Auctioneers’ Scientific and Musical Instruments, Cameras and Tools Sale on 1st February. Housed in a beautifully made glazed case, the carousel included horses with riders, sleigh chairs and bisque doll figures under a big-top canopy roof and a six-air key-wind Forte-Piccolo cylinder movement.

Also selling well above estimate, and hailing from the same private collection, was a very rare ‘Artistic Painter’ musical automaton, made in France circa 1890 by Gustave Vichy (sold for £8,500). Dressed in silk and velvet, the artist is seated with sketch pad and pencil, and it played two airs from a direct drive cylinder musical movement. A further lot from the collection, an interesting ‘Minor Overture’ Key-Wind Musical Box thought to have been made by either Lecoultre or Ducommun Girod circa 1837-40, sold for £7,000. The musical box was inscribed with the importer’s details ‘Shindel & Co., S. Brideswell St., Bristol’, and it is classed as a ‘Minor Overture’ due to the proportions of the cylinder.

Further remarkable prices were seen for rare early audio equipment, including a remarkably large E.M.G. Mark XB Oversize Horn Gramophone made circa 1935 that sold for £6,000, which is thought to be a world record for the model. The papier mache horn measured 34 inches in diameter and produced an excellent sound. E.M.G. was founded in 1923 by Ellis Michael Ginn and his brother-in-law David Phillips. By the 1930s the company Ginn had been ousted, and the company was manufacturing some of the finest acoustic gramophones ever produced. Also of interest to collectors was a professional corner cabinet speaker made by Tannoy, a company founded in Dulwich circa 1931 by Guy R. Fountain. It sold for £8,000.


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