A Philipps Paganini Orchestrion, Circa 1915, Keyboard-less Style No. 3,
Lot 29W
A Philipps Paganini Orchestrion,
Circa 1915, Keyboard-less Style No. 3,
Sold for US$ 242,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
A Philipps Paganini Orchestrion, Circa 1915, Keyboard-less Style No. 3, A Philipps Paganini Orchestrion, Circa 1915, Keyboard-less Style No. 3, A Philipps Paganini Orchestrion, Circa 1915, Keyboard-less Style No. 3, A Philipps Paganini Orchestrion, Circa 1915, Keyboard-less Style No. 3, A Philipps Paganini Orchestrion, Circa 1915, Keyboard-less Style No. 3,
A Philipps Paganini Orchestrion,
Circa 1915, Keyboard-less Style No. 3,
Identification numbers:
643 & 644 consecutive factory numbers stamped on the multi roll-changers.

With a total of 117 pipes, thirty-nine of which for forte and piano violins, twenty-seven flageolets and twelve high-octave violins, forty-four note harmonium reed board accompaniment, piano having expression, variable speed vibrato setting and solo capacity for pipes and harmonium, with dual six-changer roll mechanisms in tall-form cabinet, with plain hood flat top, slight-stepped detail to cornice and gilt band before straight fall, the decoration of the front panel of high-Egyptian revival taste, with triple oval-form iridescent faux lapis-lazuli effect aquamarine stained glass inserts, pressed and polished brass appliqués of sloped hood form, with boulé-frame surrounds and triple ribbon drops to centres, flanking the centre larger surround above square diagonal lattice-fret with cloth backdrop, double doors with further brass of squared flower heads, the double roll-changer doors each with triple bevelled mirror-glass fronts, plain fielded panel below and matching side panels, on wheels.

With approximately 24 rolls, some with extended selections, others with multiple tunes.
9' high, 5' 8" wide 3' deep


  • Provenance:
    This machine was unknown to the collecting community until recent years. It was acquired decades before by Mr. Reszo Weisser in Budapest, Hungary, a dealer of mechanical musical instruments. It was packed away in storage for many years until Siegfried Wendel, a noted German collector and proprietor of Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Museum in Rüdesheim, found this and several other long forgotten instruments — including a large Welte orchestrion.

    The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments, Arthur A. Reblitz, 2001, pp. 101-2
    Datenspeicher-Musikinstrumente, Siegfried Wendel, 2002, pp.216-234

    Ron Cappel and Company

    The very respected firm J. D. Philipps & Sons began in the automatic musical instrument business in the early 1880s producing simple barrel pianos and small orchestrions. These early machines were weight-driven, with music pinned on the wooden barrel, just as with the early 19th century chamber barrel-organs.
    After 1900, the firm produced paper roll operated machines which offered patrons a much greater variety of music and an easier storage option. Philipps offered a wide variety of machines, with the most popular being the large PianOrchestra Orchestrions—which are
    always popular with collectors today. These machines were made for the large
    dance halls in the cities in which loud, powerful machines were needed to fulfil their purpose in attracting crowds and delivering to them the appropriate sound which would be loud and clear enough to support their dancing enjoyment.
    It seems that if one were looking for a musical machine that was equally suited to a small room or a large ballroom, then it was Philipps which had the dynamic skill to provide an instrument suited both musically and stylistically to the environment. Their instruments ranged considerably for specific purposes.

    Philipps stated in their literature,
    "Take a position in another room or turn your back on this new
    musical wonder and you will find it impossible to say that you are not listening to the best works of a finished pianist and violinist..."

    Moving towards the growth of the company, Wurlitzer approached Philipps and made an arrangement to market the Philipps machines under the Wurlitzer name in the early 1900s. This opened up the American market to the Philipps machines which were mostly unknown until then, but for which a new healthy market was ready and waiting.

    The Paganini combined a very fine reproducing piano with extremely high
    quality violin pipes—producing a refined and mellow music that is
    almost unknown in other types of automatic musical instruments. For sound comparison, the Mills and Hupfeld violin-playing instruments used real pig's intestine strings, whilst the 'violins' in this instrument use the alternative pipe method.
    The pipes in the Paganini have been called "a work of art" by today's restorers. Upon close inspection, a far more superior quality material and construction method was used from the usual pipe-building method and no doubt many attempts at creating the sound using various designs were tried and tested.
    Those who are lucky enough to witness a Paganini in the process of a strip-down and re-build, will notice that the majority of the design inside was worked around the shape, form and layout of these pipes, ensuring that at no point was the sound quality jeopardised.

    Philipps went on to say in their enticing sales brochure,
    "...A visitor in a fine café or hotel restaurant notices that the music comes drifting in, so to speak, not loud, but in soft delicate strains that can be plainly heard and enjoyed by those who wish to stop their conversations to listen... while it is so soft as not to interfere with low conversations by those who wish to talk."

    It is equipped with two six-roll changers, which will permit the
    machine to play twelve separate music rolls. These mechanisms allowed a long program of music to be played without the need to constantly change the rolls – ideal for entertainment evenings.
    First, one roll on the left-hand changer plays, then when coming to a stop, the first roll on the right-hand changer starts, then back to the left changer with the second roll and so-forth, until all rolls had played their full-circle repertoire.

    The majority of the Paganini orchestrions existing today consist of the Style 3, most of the keyboard style, with fewer than ten examples known. Their rarity can be attributed to the high cost of these machines when new. The presently offered Paganini Style 3, is one of just two known in the cabinet style without keyboard, with the other in the San Sylmar Museum collection. The various Paganini styles, including the keyboard and cabinet Style 3 cost as much, or indeed more, as a large orchestrion which had much more instrumentation.

    This instrument provides a taste of pure musical refinement.
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