This monumental Swiss Ideal
interchangeable cylinder music box by Mermod Frères is one of only two examples of its kind known to exist. The other, which is virtually identical to the present box, was made for Nicholas II, future Czar of Russia, in 1878. The Ideal
mechanism inside produces an absolutely beautiful, clear and crisp sound. Secured by a Jacot & Sons patented safety check, this fascinating instrument allows for song selections, as well as changes to tempo and amplitude with a simple adjustment. Its original Ideal booklet of hand-written tune cards and a total of eight cylinders (with eight songs each for a total of 64 selections) accompanies this impeccable musical antique.
Apart from its complex mechanism, the case and cabinet are equally magnificent in every way, serving as both melodious entertainment and a fine example of late 19th-century furniture. Porcelain plaques and ormolu fittings adorn the polished ebonized box and matching cabinet. Convenient storage is offered in the cabinet's bird’s-eye maple interior with drawers that protect the additional cylinders.
Music boxes were at the height of fashion in the late 19th century and served as a status symbol for European gentry. Switzerland was the birthplace of cylindrical music boxes and home to all of the most renowned manufacturers. Among the most legendary Swiss brands was Mermod Frères of Saint-Croix. The firm worked in both watchmaking and mechanical music, two mechanical arts that have deep roots in the region. Mermod Frères' largest and most complex boxes such as this one had the best orchestral sounds, making them some of the most desirable boxes of their age. Today, they remain among the most highly sought-after by collectors.
Tempo indicator bears the Mermod Frerès shield; Sèvres plaques signed “A. Daret”
Music box: 49 1/2” wide x 16 7/8” deep x 10 5/8” high
Cabinet: 55” wide x 21” deep x 42 1/4” highClick here to view a video of this item.