Hupfeld Helios Ii/25 Orchestrion
Ludwig Hupfeld AG (Böhlitz-Ehrenberg, Germany)
This early example of a Style II/25 Helios is among the finest ever produced by Hupfeld, in one of the firm's most popular cabinet styles. Playing standard Helios rolls, its instrumentation includes a piano, reiterating mandolin mechanism, 204 pipes (flute, piccolo, oboe, two violin ranks, viola, cello and bass), xylophone, bass drum, loud and soft snare drum and cymbal. It includes the "concert" expression system, with shutters to control the volume of the pipes, and vacuum expression controls for the piano, xylophone and percussion.
It excels at playing all types of music from waltzes, ragtime and classics in wonderfully sophisticated arrangements to "modern" late 1920s dance music. Over 100 original and re-cut rolls are included. There are perhaps only seven or eight of this model known to exist today. Often, many years will elapse before an opportunity occurs to buy one.
This example was sold new in the Basque region of France and was located in the Villa Euterpe before its acquisition by the renowned Fischer Collection. It was subsequently completely restored by Mike Argain in 2004, and the case was enhanced by the addition of side cabinets with art glass windows, made from blueprints of an original cabinet. From the gold leaf to the art glass, this is a spectacular piece.
The Hupfeld firm had its inception in the 1880s when J.M. Grob and Company, located in Leipzig, evolved from a shop selling art and fancy goods to a specialty in mechanical musical instruments, the hand-cranked Ariston organette being an early favorite, along with pianos playing music from a perforate disc. In 1892 Ludwig Hupfeld, an employee of the firm, took over the operation and changed the name to his own. During the remainder of the decade a Hupfeld electric piano was demonstrated at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and shortly thereafter the Aeolian automatic organ was introduced. By the early 20th century Hupfeld had on the market nearly a dozen different automatic orchestras, most of them in ornate cases. In 1906 the Helios was introduced, an instrument combining an automatic piano with other effects, typically several ranks of pipes, xylophone, bells and drums, with the II/25 as offered here being among those with particularly extensive instrumentation. From that point through about 1914, several dozen different models and case variations were made in several classes, identified as I, II, III, IV and V. Most of these have disappeared forever, with no examples remaining. Production of the larger instruments ended, and in the 1920s most were of the Helios keyboard style (an example of which is in this sale). This orchestrion is accompanied by a framed and matted vintage advertisement for Hupfeld Organs. 144x132x57 inches.