Antique Monkey Jockey Automaton Music Box by Karrer, c. 1875
This is a most unusual and rare music box.
Made by Karrer of Geneva, Switzerland in c. 1875, the musical movement features a distinctive automaton of a monkey dressed as a jockey who rolls his eyes and opens and closes his mouth as the music plays. The second half of the nineteenth century saw a craze for horseracing novelties following the opening of the Longchamp Racecourse in the Bois du Boulogne in Paris in 1857. This music box is a remarkable illustration of that fashion, also echoed in the original colourful racing trim around the edge of the central drum.
The musical movement also features six saucer bells (two of which are struck by bird strikers); a drum with metal skin; a tune indicator; and levers to engage and disengage the drums and bells at will. The music box plays a selection of 10 tunes of the era as detailed on the replacement tunesheet.
It is housed in a case veneered in beautiful burr walnut and with a large musical motif inlay to the lid as well as boxwood stringing to the sides and front, all sitting on top of an ebonised plinth. The case has been reveneered at some time in the past, and there are some thin cracks to either side of the lid (please see the images), but they are small imperfections relative to the scarcity of the piece.
It is a most entertaining, and very rare, spectacle.