Filed under: Auctions
The amazing piece of furniture shown above is a rare orchestrion set to go up for auction on October 7 at Bonhams New York. An orchestrion is a machine that plays music and is design to sound like an orchestra or band. Some of the orchestrions are operated using perforated paper rolls like a player piano.
This orchestrion is from the Mark Yaffe Collection, a total of $4 million of property being sold at the sale. Orchestrions reached the height of their popularity in the early1920s. Also known as nickelodeons because they cost a nickel to play, these machines were once features in bars and restaurants. The piece shown above is a circa 1925 Hupfeld Helios III/39. It has a total of 296 pipes to mimic a variety of instruments including cellos, trombones, drums and mandolin. There is a six-roll changer behind the stained glass. The front has an automaton of a lakeside scene which changes from dawn to dusk using light effects to the sky, lights within the dwellings, trains and windmill, hot air balloon and a Zeppelin flying by complete the illusion. It's a easy to imagine this piece as the height of technological innovation in the Jazz Age, providing plenty of entertainment for cocktail-swilling Deco dolls and dandies. This incredible piece is estimated to sell for $800,000 to $1.2 million. Other pieces in the collection are also estimated to sell deep in the six figures including a circa 1926 Weber Maestro Orchestrion estimated at $500,000-750,000 and a circa 1915 Philipps Paganini Style 3 Orchestrion offered with 300 re-cut rolls estimated at $400,000-600,000.