Rare Mechanical Music Players from the 19th Century
The polyphon is a disc playing music box, first manufactured in Leipzig, Germany, around 1870. It is not uncommon to find table polyphons at auction today, however free standing upright polyphons are extremely rare. Coming up for sale in June at Plymouth Auction Rooms will be three examples, which were purchased by the owner in Leipzig (the home of the polyphons) some 30 years ago. The polyphon discs have a tune which is punched out on the disc, with the pitch determined by the position of the punching. Each polyphon is powered by a hand-wound clockwork motor, and the two upright examples at the auction are the money in the slot type machines.
The collection comprises of a fine table polyphon by Orphenion, considered the very best table music boxes to come out of Germany. This model dates from 1890 to 1900, and as a non-coin operated model, suggests it was a centre piece in a private house. Measuring 70cm x 50cm, it is of a good size and housed in figured and burr walnut case. This is estimated at £2,000 to £3,000 (Lot 102).
The money in the slot upright music box named Kalliope and set in mahogany, is complete with a disc bin and further polyphon discs. This particular model by virtue of the five pfennig coin in the slot, suggests it was installed in a bar or novelty shop somewhere in Germany. This model is estimated at £3,000 to £4,000 (Lot 101).
Particularly rare is the impressive Adler, set with huge 65.50cm discs, and complete with its original disc bin. This cabinet polyphon is set with its original ‘Adler’ etched door and has a five pfennig coin in the slot operation mechanism. Standing at 253cm tall in a superb walnut cabinet, bidding is set at £6,000 to £8,000 (Lot 100).
Each of these music boxes can be viewed at the home of the owner, by appointment, with Plymouth Auction Rooms. The auction will be held at the Saleroom on the 8th June at 10:30 a.m.
Head online to listen to the beautiful sounds and tones of each music box here.