Antique Coin-Operated Dancing Dolls Music box, possibly by Paillard, c. 1890
A great-sounding and highly entertaining antique cylinder music box featuring two dancing doll automata and 5 engraved bells, possibly made by Paillard in St Croix, Switzerland in c. 1890.
The bells are all engraved and surmounted by colourful enamel finials, and three of them are struck by butterfly strikers in coloured enamel. The original dancing dolls have bisque heads, bodies, and limbs, and one has had her dress and wig recently refurbished to put them in beautiful condition for the dance.
The musical movement is coin-operated and is started when an old English penny in inserted into the slot on the right of the case. These coins then fall into a drawer below, where the original key is rather charmingly labelled ‘Grog Table’.
The music box plays a selection of 12 popular tunes of the days with a jolly, lively sound befitting of the two dolls inside.
The case lid and front are veneered in old rosewood with inlaid tulipwood banding and boxwood stringing. The outline of an original transfer decal is still visible to the lid and front.
It is a rather scarce music box, since not many were made to be coin operated, and the combination of this with dancing dolls and colourful enamel strikers make it a very beautiful thing.