Inventory no. 34157 - Former Display Label
Swiss MUSICAL BOX
Stamped on the comb, 'F LECOULTRE', and on the bed-palte, '332'; not dated. Movement of brass and steel in a plain wooden box; key wound. The tunes played are popular operatic airs.
The general design of the movement, the manner in which it is secured in the box with four screws, two at the front and two at the back, the key wind and compartment for the winding key, the one-piece comb and the absence of washers under the comb screws, the position and simplicity of the controls (on the left, front: start/stop; back; tune change), and the plain box, are characteristics of early musical boxes, before about 1850.
Probably made by Francois Charles Lecoulture of Geneva, who was born in 1801 and died in 1850. Several musical box makers named Lecoultre were active during the first half of the nineteenth century. This box may be compared with those illustrated on plates 49 (attributed to Lecoultre) and 61 (by Scriber) in Arthure W. J. G. Ord-Hume, Music Box. History and Collectors' Guide, London 1980.
This musical box was the property of Sarah Codner (nee Vince) (1820 - 1904) when, in 1870, she and her husband, Theophilus Codner, were caught in the seige of Paris. Theophilus Codner was engaged in the building of new bridges over the Seine. During the seige, Sarah Codner bought paintings to help artists in Paris; one of her purchases, a small drawing by Constantin Guys, is now in the Ashmolean Museum. The musical box passed to Sarah Codner's great-niece, the late Lilian Hamilton Jeffrey, M.A., D. Phil, F.B.A., F.S.A., from 1952 Tutor in Ancient History at Lady Margaret Hall, and from 1953 Fellow of the College, both until 1980.
Given by Dr Jeffrey's sister, Mrs Shelagh Taylor
Musical boxes derive from medieval carillons and barrel-organs, by way of carillon clocks of which the earliest know to survive was made in 1598 by the Fleming, Nikolaas Vallin. The essential musical comb-work was invented just befor 1800. Musical boxes are an interesting application of clockwork, controlled by a speed-govenor of the air-brake type.
A later and larger, unsigned musical box, double-comb/double-cylinder (co-axial), lever-wound, lent by the Pitt Rivers Museum, is displayed in the fire-place. The trade-mark, on the box and on the tune-list, depicting the Brunswick Monument, identifies the maker as Ami Francois Rivenc of Geneva, who lived from 1837 to 1898. The musical box shown would have been made between 1869 and 1898. A lithographed card printed in Zurich and completed in manuscript in English, is attached inside the lid and lists the tunes available.
[Pitt Rivers acc. no. 1951.11.B1]