A Lecoultre Interchangeable Cylinder Musical Box with 20 cylinders
Lot 32W
An exhibition-quality 'Flute Voix-Céleste et Mandoline' interchangeable cylinder music box-on-stand, by Lecoultre, Circa 1869,
Sold for US$ 64,050 inc. premium
Lot Details
An exhibition-quality 'Flute Voix-Céleste et Mandoline' interchangeable cylinder music box-on-stand, by Lecoultre,
Circa 1869,
No. 37112,
with twenty cylinders each playing six airs of a wide selection including large sections of operas, ballads, folk tunes and dances, the massive longe-marché spring motor with helical-geared top-wind folding crank, triple-blade governor with start/stop, the double-section combs each with two rows of screws flanking central 22-key organ, on substantial reeded gilt cast bedplate with the bedplate void revealing the edge of the bellows which are lined with rouge paper with gilt tooled decoration, in ebonised interior with dust lid having pierced spandrels, double shaped lid stays, change/repeat and start/stop controls to right, fully signed double lever-bolt lock bearing the Rue des Alpes 12 address, in very imposing serpentine case, the slightly-domed lid with quadruple tulipwood stringing and intermediates of ebony fields, the whole in deep toned and richly figured thuyawood veneers polished to a fine mirror-shine, bone escutcheon to front locks and the repeated veneers to front, sides and back, standing on the matching console storage stand in serpentine profile, large double doors with repeated stringing opening to reveal the four press slides, with letterbox inlay front and four cylinder storage each, shaped apron below, on integral bracket feet, with the period tunesheet listing seventeen cylinders, now separately framed in its non-restored state (some clear tape and stain marks) –
the cabinet 56in. wide, 24in. deep, the cylinders 26.1/4in. and the diameters 3.3/4in.


  • Reference:
    Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments, Q. David Bowers, 1972, pp.45-51

    It is very clear from examining this enormous music box, that what one sees here is either a special commission directly from F. Lecoultre, or more likely, an exhibition piece made for a major event. The same quality veneers used for the front and lid are seen at the back; the mottled figuring of the thuyawood is continuous from center-to-border and the storage console is the same tonal color as the box. It is a masterpiece of engineering and a unique glimpse into how a special order was undertaken within, what must have been, a near endless ceiling of a budget.

    Organ boxes which have not been maintained regularly or correctly may have holed bellows at the corners. If even very holes appear at these crucial creases, it can have a negative effect to the sound, as the reservoir may not have the required amount of wind needed to play in-time with the pinning for the combs. With the wind instrument part of a music box, there is sometimes a minute delay between the reed pin being registered and a comb pin plucked, but only if the piece is not restored to a high standard. Set up correctly, the timing should be excellent. With this music box, and indeed everything from the Mark Yaffe collection in this sale, the timing is one of the best heard and the restoration tip-top. Careful attention to preserve both its mechanical and cosmetic states, presents here a true example of how excellent interchangeable Voix-Céleste boxes should be.