1079 : Ami Rivenc, c. 1870

Antique Piece a Oiseau Full Orchestral Antique Music Box by Ami Rivenc, c. 1870


A museum quality, extremely rare Piece a Oiseau full orchestral antique music box made by Ami Rivenc of Geneva in c. 1870. 

Piece a oiseau boxes are rare. Full orchestral piece a oiseau boxes almost never appear. To have one in such excellent condition is, for me, a first in my nearly 50 years of dealing in music boxes. 

This is truly a very special thing. The movement features 7 engraved bells, a drum, castanet, and a singing bird automaton visible through its own window at the front of the case. The exquisitely coloured feathered bird has four separate moving parts: head, beak, wings and tail. The beak moves in time with the music he makes, lending him a wonderfully realistic air. As an extra feature, the birdsong can be turned off at will – although even when silent, the bird continues to move. He sits inside his original dried foliage nest, and has a beautiful tone to his birdsong, thanks to a 16-note pipe organ. The bells are engraved and can be disengaged at will, as can the drum and castanet. The entire musical movement has been fully overhauled and cleaned, and is in the best possible condition. 

The case is veneered rosewood with a wonderful quality central inlay to the lid of a winged cherub playing a lyre, seated on a brown bear and being startled by a barking dog. The case also has kingwood crossbanding to the lid, sides and front, along with canted corners and gilded carrying handles to the sides. Inside, the glass dust lid is inlaid with brass and mother-of-pearl. The tunesheet is original, and is marked No. 18140 (also stamped on the winding handle). There is also a maker’s plaque for “Ami Rivenc & Co – Manufacturers – Geneva” on the inside of the lid. 

The music box sits on its own table which may possibly be of bespoke manufacture for this box, although it is of a slightly later date – French, c. 1880. The table is walnut, part ebonised with incised gilt decoration, fluting to the legs, and bronze roundels of a boy and a girl to the front and back. Note there is an old split to one side in the centre of the tabletop. Despite this, the music box sits perfectly upon it – even the decoration in the corner works in perfect proportion to the box, giving it a correspondingly elegant air.

Table size: 
34" / 86cm wide x 20" / 51cm deep x 28 1/2" / 72cm high

Width: 30” / 76cm
Height: 11 1/2" / 29cm
Depth: 17” / 43cm
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