Auction Team Breker thrives with the sounds of music

Silver-gilt and enamel singing bird box automaton. Price realized: €32,740/$37,300. Auction Team Breker image

COLOGNE, Germany – On Nov. 9, Auction Team Breker offered the mechanical music collection of the late Luuk Goldhoorn, the famously private author and historian of Utrecht, The Netherlands. Goldhoorn was a respected and generous researcher, as a glance through the acknowledgments of almost any recent book on the mechanical music industry will confirm. In addition to his many detailed articles in the specialist press and contributions to the Dutch museum Speelklok in Utrecht. Goldhoorn was best remembered for his reference work on 19th-century Austrian musical boxes, which he described as a forgotten craft. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

The Goldhoorn collection was unusual in its depth and its focus: 174 lots of pocket-size musical snuffboxes, watches, sewing necessaires and original documentation from the earliest days of the musical box. In offering this personal, highly academic collection, questions about availability and demand came into play. Would a collection of this size and specialist nature find buyers, would it overwhelm the market?

Here Breker’s unparalleled international advertising campaigns and the combination of traditional and live bidding (via three internet platforms in America, Europe and China) came into play. The strategy paid off, with a 100 percent sold rate for the collection and enthusiastic bidding from Cologne to Canberra.

Objets de vertu with rare musical formats attracted some of the heaviest bidding. The following are a few of the highlights:

– Lot 10: An exceptional gold snuffbox (below), playing one British and one Swiss air, with an inscription celebrating “friendship and recognition” – a sentiment as relevant in 1810 as it is today. Sold: €17,600/$20,050.

Exceptional 18K gold and enamel musical presentation snuff box. Price realized: €17,600/$20,050. Auction Team Breker image

– Lot 38: Gold musical sur-plateau pocket watch, circa 1815. Sold: €4.280/$4,880.

– Lot 114: Rare curved musical gold snuffbox, circa 1812. Sold: €25,180/$28,700.

Exceptional 18K curved musical gold snuffbox, circa 1812. Price realized: €25,180/$28,700. Auction Team Breker image

Also in demand was a fine selection of Palais Royale sewing necessaries and a series of “sur plateau” musical boxes in George III silver cases.

– Lot 102: Musical sewing necessaire by F. Nicole in miniature escritoire, circa 1840. Sold: €7,770/$8,860.

Musical sewing necessaire by F. Nicole, c. 1840. Price realized: €7,770/$8,860. Auction Team Breker image

– Lot 39: Palais Royale piano-form sewing necessaire with a full complement of original tools, circa 1830. Sold: €6,330/$7,220.

Palais Royale musical piano-form sewing necessaire, circa 1830. Price realized: €6,330/$7,220. Auction Team Breker image

– Lot 47: Musical silver snuff box by Joseph Rogers & Son, Sheffield, circa 1817, with sur-plateau musical movement. Sold: €4,280/$4,880.

– Lot 45: Gold and enamel musical harp pendant, probably Bessière & Schneider, circa 1805. Sold: €36,500/$41,600.

Gold and enamel musical harp pendant, circa 1805. Price realized: €36,500/$41,600. Auction Team Breker image

The highest prices of the day were achieved by the largest and smallest pieces respectively: an exquisite enameled gold musical pendant and a magnificent Eroica triple-disc hall clock by Symphonion Musikwerke of Leipzig.

– Lot 193: Symphonion Eroica-style 38A triple-disc musical clock, circa 1895. Sold: €62,900/$71,700 – a new European auction record for this model.

Other rare formats included the double-disc Symphonion Duplex and coin-activated “station” musical box, accompanied by three dancing bisque dolls, in carved chalet case.

– Lot 209: Model 252 twin-disc Symphonion, circa 1905. Sold: €18,900/$21,500.

– Lot 263: “Station” musical box chalet by Mermod Frères, circa 1900. Sold €27,700/$31,600.