Skinner Inc.

Auctioneers and Appraisers

Watch & Listen: A Singing Mechanical Bird Box

Singing mechanical bird boxes have fascinated viewers since the 18th century. The earliest examples, like the one made by Jaquet-Droz & Leschot, Switzerland circa 1785 were often enameled gold boxes set with precious stones or pearls. Skinner sold a Jaquet-Droz & Leschot box in 2007 for $182,000. Watch the singing bird box in action.

Contained within these small, elegant boxes is a complex mechanism and bellows which provide mechanical movement to the bird, wings, tail and beak while pumping air through a multi-pitch whistle providing the sound. Many of the later boxes, like the one shown in this video, are made in Germany and are available for a fraction of the cost of the 18th century examples.

This gilt-brass singing mechanical bird box was made in the 20th Century in Germany, and brought $3,500 at the July 16, 2011 Science, Technology & Clocks auction.

 

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