Animated Figures on German Christmas Music Box
by Karl Petersen (040516 MMDigest}

kap_mb01.jpg (15 kb)A neighbor has found this musical box in the attic of his late mother's house.  It was out in the air simply sitting on a shelf, for who knows how many decades, yet it shows excellent preservation considering the environment.  I was immediately suspicious that it could be a recent fake, but the circumstances are quite clear.  The likelihood is that it was purchased sometime before WW1, but it is quite impossible to ask.  There had been no mention of it to any relatives now living.

The figures all move.  The Santa shakes the bell at double time and waves the Chinese puppet (unfortunately not animated itself).  The left girl taps animatedly on the abacus with a pointer, the next girl works at extracting a doll from Santa's pocket, the center girl pirouettes, and the right girl wheels the pram back and forth.  There seems to be no wear at all, only the dust of age, and perhaps a deterioration of the face of one of the toys in Santa's sack.

The bottom is marked only "Made in Germany" in a blue rubber stamp and is attached simply with small blued nails.  I have not yet opened it for inspection since it is so untouched, and it has not been cleaned at all.  The base is about 10" by 16" and I have placed a ruler beneath the edge for scale.  Yes, inches.  [25 cm x 40 cm]

The tune is perhaps only a few musical phrases on a very small movement, hand cranked, and I would expect it will not be identifiable, but that will come later.

I have not found any references to anything quite like this, and suspect most similar boxes would have been quickly ruined.

Any ideas as to the date of manufacture?  Rarity?  Maker?  Importer?  We are all getting splinters scratching our heads here.

Karl Petersen
Rushville, Illinois
karlp (at) firedragon (dot) com, since my old address has been buried beneath the spam.
16 May 2004 22:56:23 -0600 (MDT)

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19 May 2004