Antique Overture Music Box by Nicole Freres, c. 1868
A sublime sounding Overture antique music box made by the firm of Nicole Freres of Geneva, Switzerland in c. 1868.
The fully overhauled musical movement plays 6 operatic overtures with a quite magnificent sound: William Tell, Tancredi & Semiramide (Rossini); Herold's Zampa; Bellini's Norma; and Mozart's Don Giovanni. The musical movement features a 15 3/8” / 30cm cylinder with a diameter of 3” / 8cm, and the arrangements of the overtures are quite superb.
Overture music boxes were made as the very finest possible expression of mechanical music, demanding the most from the artisans who arranged the pinning on the cylinder to compact an opera into a short composition with a complexity of sound approaching that of an orchestra. You can appreciate as the video progresses quite how ambitious these arrangements are. This particular music box is a first-class example, and has a most magnificent case to match.
The case is rosewood and exquisitely inlaid both to the lid and to the front. On the lid, the intricate lozenge inlay features an array of different woods, including walnut, kingwood and tulipwood, as well as mother-of-pearl details It has a small imperfection in one section of the inlay but is otherwise very nice. The front inlay is also intricate, and shows a bird in flight delivering a letter.