A rare musical ‘Captain’s Desk’ Davenport will be going up for sale in Tennants Auctioneers’ Scientific and Musical Instruments, Cameras, and Tools Sale on 17th May, with an estimate of £4,000-6,000 (plus buyer’s premium). At first glance this piece, which was made circa 1875-80, appears to be purely a well veneered compact desk with a sloped piano-lid over an extendable writing desk. However, concealed within the burr-walnut finished body is a finely made musical box.
This rare piece is at the intersection of furniture making and mechanical musical instruments and displays the cooperative artisanship of multiple makers. The musical box was made by A.B Bremond, a Swiss musical box maker whose main body of work dates to the mid to late nineteenth century. The mechanism for changing the cylinders bears the mark of Blumberg and Co., a London based cabinet maker last documented in 1871, and the Davenport casework has been ascribed to Edwards and Roberts, a successful furniture maker and retailer in London. Very few such pieces have ever appeared on the open market.
A second finely cased disc musical box, this time in an upright longcase form with a clock, is also on offer. The superb piece was made by Symphonion, one of the finest and most admired makers of musical boxes. Grand, imposing, technically brilliant, the musical box will be sold with an estimate of £3,000-5,000.
Elsewhere in the sale, a strong selection of musical instruments is led by a good violin made in 1901 by Jeffery J Gilbert of Peterborough (estimate: £3,000-4,000), and a well-made classical guitar by Antonio Raya Pardo (estimate: £800-1,200).
Also of interest to collectors is a fine binocular microscope made by J. Swift of London (estimate: £1,500-2,000), and a good example of the always desirable pharmacy leech jar. The present example was made by Samuel Alcock & Co, Cobridge, Staffordshire, and the earthenware is decorated with green and white ground with gilding (estimate: £1,000-1,500).