A Popper 'Iduna' Orchestrion, Circa 1912, Model 13, with illuminated pictorial automaton,
Lot 30W
A Popper 'Iduna' Orchestrion,
Circa 1912, Model 13, with illuminated pictorial automaton,
Sold for US$ 218,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
A Popper 'Iduna' Orchestrion, Circa 1912, Model 13, with illuminated pictorial automaton, A Popper 'Iduna' Orchestrion, Circa 1912, Model 13, with illuminated pictorial automaton, A Popper 'Iduna' Orchestrion, Circa 1912, Model 13, with illuminated pictorial automaton, A Popper 'Iduna' Orchestrion, Circa 1912, Model 13, with illuminated pictorial automaton, A Popper 'Iduna' Orchestrion, Circa 1912, Model 13, with illuminated pictorial automaton,
A Popper 'Iduna' Orchestrion,
Circa 1912, Model 13, with illuminated pictorial automaton,
Identification number:
348 stamped on the frame shelf

With a total of 159 pipes, twenty-seven of each for violins, clarinets, flutes and piccolos, twelve for cellos (being a bass extension of the violin rank), and thirty-nine gambas, the piano with mandolin attachment and twenty-seven note xylophone accompanied by fifteen orchestra bells, bass drum with tympani effect, snare drum, cymbal and triangle and a solo capacity to bells, xylophone and pipes, in Jugendstil cabinet with slender arched central pediment with lowered shaped cornice, wide squared segmented brass bar fret straddling twin bar frets and waved poker-work detail, flanked by platform boss finials above subtle incised decoration, the central long and short bevelled mirror-glass pane door with elegant shepherd's-crook sparred and shaped balustrade, the animated side panels each with splendid painted detail on velum-to-glass, the left with a windmill before mountains, hill path leading to watermill in the foreground, the right panel with large rocky surmounted waterfall with arched bridge, the tree-lined mountains behind with further fall and a small country dwelling, opening to reveal the pipe and accompaniment chamber, above central 'Iduna' title frosted glazed door, compliment sectional mirror-glass doors to the sides, finished by a pair of patinated bronzed metal figurine electroliers of maiden warriors, each holding naturalistic branches terminating with period-style carbon-filament hoop bulbs, motor and bellow chamber below, behind the double doors with repeated brass fret bar detail along three planes, electrolier supports of tapering square form, sides with inset fielded removable panels, on slight plinth base, on wheels.

With 40 rolls.
10' high 6' wide 4' deep


  • References:
    Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments, Q. David Bowers, 1972, p.589
    The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments, Arthur A. Reblitz, 2001, pp.80, (for original photograph and details of the 'sister' orchestrion, the Felix, in-situ, in California).

    Ron Cappel and Company

    At the time of printing, and to the best of our knowledge, there is only one other Popper Iduna No 13 known to exist, currently on view in the San Sylmar Museum, established by J. B. Nethercutt, in California, USA.

    Popper & Co., based in Leipzig, Germany, made many models of classic piano orchestrions during the early 20th century. As well as the standard numbering system for each model, they also came with names, such as Rex, Matador, Ohio, Diva, Clarabella and Con Amore. Sandwiched between the No. 12 called The Extra and the 14 The Luna, the No. 13 was marketed as "A first class concert orchestra suitable also for dancing". It appears that this 'universal' instrument could cater for a large informal crowd, through to a conservative recital.

    The roll door has frosted glass with the name "IDUNA" etched on
    the front in prominent gold and black lettering, with the other models in this series bearing their titles either as decals or inlaid in various woods in a prominent position on the front roll door or pediment.

    Once again, attention to detail during restoration was unsurpassed. The two statues flanking the case at the mid-way point hold three lights each. The lights are bare bulbs which originally would have been either carbon filament lamps with a single loop, or one of the latest lamp types of the day, the 'crown' filament working to a low wattage. Although it is very hard to find the original lamps, the ones seen working today, are the closest modern match for the carbon lamp. With a ribbon filament, each light glows a rich orange-red at very low wattage and just enough to provide the effect as designed. The detail described here illustrates the passion for restoring these instruments to the point where the look of the piece is as close to the sight seen by people over eighty years before. Just obtaining these lamps was a task in itself, and these are just the light bulbs.

    Popper & Co. orchestrions are sufficiently rare that only a few collectors are fortunate enough to own one. The combination of ornate cabinetry and art plus very "listenable" music has made these a favorite on occasions when members of the various clubs and societies have been able to see and hear them.

    As a general rule, these are very durable, accounting for the fact that, as mentioned, four examples the Salon Orchestra, as introduced in 1913, were still in service into the 1950s and, fortunately, remained in their original locations into the 1960s. The music selections include classical and operatic tunes as well as popular melodies, with more pleasant melodic arrangements being the rule.
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