A very early and rare 'Brillianto Notonail' three-air key-wind cylinder musical box, attributed to Ducommun Girod, made in the transitional years 1819-1823, a totally un-restored barn find from France,
Lot 43
A very early and rare 'Brillianto Notonail' three-air key-wind cylinder musical box, attributed to Ducommun Girod, made in the transitional years 1819-1823, a totally un-restored barn find from France,
Sold for £4,080 (US$ 5,150) inc. premium

Lot Details
Cylinder Musical Boxes
A very early and rare 'Brillianto Notonail' three-air key-wind cylinder musical box,
attributed to Ducommun Girod, made in the transitional years 1819-1823, a totally un-restored barn find from France,
No. 1159, playing Italian Operatic airs with single-spring motor and fine ratchet wheel, the un-cemented hollow cylinder with tuning/pinning lines in groups of four in various fixed positions, interesting blued bar-form return spring with edge-point contact, snail steps in 1-2-3-1-2-3 sequence and steel-capped stop arm pin and boss, 'comma' governor top, the sectional bass-right comb with 73 groups of two teeth each, original dampers remaining to most and leads in position to all the bass, un-inscribed brass comb bar with straight-edge front and pitch-filled tooth spacers, on plain brass bedplate, the walnut case remains of unusual construction with the underside panel originally one section screwed overlapping all sides, now with extreme sides present with one bearing ink inscription (slightly indistinct) Brillanto Notonail 7 + 9* 1159, centre absent as is the lid, lap-jointed sides with each top centre bearing hook hole for original lid fastening, start/stop, change/repeat and instant stop controls issuing cylinder-side base, steel bedplate screws evenly positioned - 14.1/2in. (37cm) wide, the cylinder 10.1/4in. (26cm)


  • Condition: P(ow) II 3(v)

    (The Great Wheel is seriously worn through the full circumference, two teeth are off, and a major shunt from possible drop has resulted in bedplate screw heads bent, case sides with compression and expansion joint failures, lid and underside panel missing.)

    After much deliberation, it has been decided to offer this splendid musical box in this state to show off its potential to the buyer's own restoration tastes and also to display its current originality. Due to the very fragile and somewhat dangerous state of the great wheel, a recording of all three airs has been made which will be played during the view and we respectfully ask that on no account must the spring be wound.

    According to Tune Sheets by H. A. V. Bulleid, number 1159 comes under the spell of the dotted line which starts at circa 1819 with the more solid and known plotting from 1830. With some makers using a prefix of 1, this could be strictly speaking number 159 and as such, would also support the fact that no maker's stamps or any other marks apart from 1159 are to be found anywhere on the movement or case. Comparing this piece side-by-side with other known musical boxes by Ducommun Girod dating from the early 1820s, the control levers, comb design, governor head and the case sides are pretty much identical.

    After studying the pinning, notation of the score, tuning and quality of music, it is all still surprisingly good, with some amazing runs and superb tone. Like all early boxes, it's all in the quality and not the volume. There are a very small number of pins bent, but at just over 95% present and correct, a re-pin is really not required.

    Looking at the casework, the lid would have been part countersunk, with a dirt tide-mark on two sides of the same depth showing a clearance of approximately .1/8th" from the spring barrel, then neatly covering the side edges before being held by the four hooks through the lid edge eyes (the right-hand side shows an old arc-scratch caused by the hook, so proportions for re-makes should not be a problem). A handle to the top would have completed the construction and it is here that a convincing theory regarding the present condition has arisen; that this was being carried when two or more hooks failed and, with all musical boxes, one end being heavier than the other, it fell and made contact with the floor on its spring-barrel end and the shunt took the bedplate through .1/4" whilst the sudden compression caused the underside panel to pop and fly out.

    Both these parts were not kept with the musical box and after a good many years, finding them is unlikely. A full search of the premises in France where this was discovered in early 2009 failed to locate them.
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