A musical symphonion longcase (c. 1895 Germany)

A musical symphonion longcase
Title A musical symphonion longcase
Country of Origin Germany
Dated c. 1895
Classification PETERSEN & STEENSTRUP, KJOBENHAVN (COPENHAGEN) (worked 1871-1945)
Condition Very good
Dimensions 36.00inch wide (91.44 cm wide)
93.00inch high (236.22 cm high)
21.50inch deep (54.61 cm deep)
Status SOLD

Bowers. Encyclopedia of automatic musical instruments

Description / Expertise

D210. This longcase Symphonion, made circa 1895, whilst having the standard movement playing 25.25" discs, has a fine walnut case, the design of which is thought to be unique, featuring finely carved female figures to either side of the base and grotesque figures to the trunk.

So far as we are aware no similar symphonion case exists as we have been unable to find one in the standard works such as the Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments by David Bowers nor has the Music Box Society of America any records of such a fine case, which is far better than the standard one. The probable explanation is that it was a special commission by a private individual and this is reinforced by the fact that it is not coin operated, as would be the case when they were used in cafes and places of entertainment, which has the advantage that it appears to shown very little signs of wear. Another unusual feature is that the base of the case is used as a cupboard and a separate substantial box is provided for the discs, some 14 in all.

The Symphonion bears a small label; that of the retailer Petersen & Steenstrup, Kjobenhavn
(Copenhagen), who produced and retailed all manner of musical instruments and mechanical music between 1887 and 1920. Although made in Germany we believe this machine has, until recently, spent all its life in Denmark

The breakarch top to the case features a stylised lyre with a sunburst above and foliate decoration to either side. The hinged door beneath it has a striking clock movement and dial to the centre with arabic numerals and below are grotesque figures. To either side are columns. Opening the door reveals the musical movement. The base has a panel to the centre and is flanked by well executed buxom young ladies. The case rests on bun feet.

Height. 93" (236cms). Width. 36" (91cms). Depth. 21.5" (54.6 cms).

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