Auctioneers and Appraisers

Rare Variable-Lengths Grand Format Musical Box by Nicole Frères






Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2383
Date / Time :
October 28, 2007 10:00AM


Rare Variable-Lengths Grand Format Musical Box by Nicole Frères, No. 34734, circa 1855, playing eight operatic airs on four revolutions of the cylinder, (Gamme No. 1534), the brass bedplate stamped Nicole Frères à Geneve, the comb stamped Nicole Frères twice, with winding lever, three-winged governor and instant-stop, in restored rosewood veneered case with red interior, tiger-grained lid interior with engraved silver tune-program, the front and lid with alternating brass and pewter stringing and geometric designs of pierced brass, green and blue "marble" enamels, wd. 28 1/2, cylinder 16 1/4 x 4 in., (movement in excellent playing condition).
Note: An extremely rare variation of the Grand Format, eight operatic airs of unequal length are arranged on a four-revolution cylinder. The sequence of the program is also unusual in its alternation between operas and composers, Somnambula by Bellini featuring as the second, sixth, and eighth tunes, and Don Giovanni by Mozart as the third and the fifth. This idiosyncratic arrangement suggests the personal choice or a special commission from Nicole Frères, who created an eight-air box without comprising four-air quality. The slow rotation of the cylinder, with a complete revolution pinned to play for around 2 1/2 minutes, allows for a rich interplay of pronounced mandoline (in scattered groups of up to six teeth), bass and piccolo effects over the approx. 230-tooth comb.
The tunes are I: "Verano a te Duetto" from Lucia Lammermoor by Donizetti in 3/4 of the revolution, and "Vi Ravviso a Luoghi, Cavatiera" from Somnambula by Bellini in 1/4 of a revolution; II: "La Cidarma, la Mano" from Don Giovanni by Mozart in 1/3 of the revolution, and "Vaga Luna, Che Inargenti, Promanzetta" by Bellini in 2/3 of the revolution: III "Deli Vinni alla Finestra" from Don Giovanni in 1/4 of the revolution, and "Ah' Non Giunge Marche" ("To Sleepwalk no More") from Somnanmbula in 3/4 of the revolution; IV "Barcarolle de Masaniello, [sic] Carafa" and "Ah Perche Non Posso Odinirti" from Somnambula, in 1/2 a revolution each.
Estimate $30,000-40,000


Nicole Frères, Somnambula, Don Giovanni, Lucia Lammermoor, Che, Deli Vinni, Gaetano Donizetti