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Musical boxes play sweetly to bidders at John Moran auction
By Carole Deutsch

MONROVIA, Calif. – An outstanding selection of mechanical music boxes, from the collection of Ralph and Gloria Schack, claimed a high percentage of top lots at the John Moran Traditional Collector auction. The highly anticipated sale did not disappoint. Although the music boxes were the standout segment of the sale, other unique articles of special interest from well-known collectors also brought strong prices.

“The music boxes drew so much interest because the lifetime collection was known worldwide. Not only were the items selective, but pristinely well-maintained, and in working condition as well,” said Roland Rynkiewicz, Vice President, Furniture & Decorative Arts Director. “The Schacks were long time members of the Music Box Society International, which is the premier organization for people interested in antique and contemporary mechanical music machines, whose origin predates electrically amplified music. Ralph Schack was actually the president of MBSI for a time. His son came to us with approximately 30 iconic pieces that attracted local, national, and international collectors, and everything sold except for one item.”

The most coveted piece, a M. Welte & Sohn style 3 “Cottage” orchestrion, was cataloged as having “an impressive sound, evoking the feel of an orchestra.” The large 9 ½ foot tall piece was almost 6 feet wide and over 3 feet deep and housed in a wood case with a glass viewing window, creating an imposing presentation. The case had a pierced spindle gallery, a molded cornice, and five gilt scroll-work glazed-panel doors. The mechanism was fitted with a patented pneumatic system with 75-key paper rolls playing a 44-note range with 134 pipes. It was made in 1886, refurbished in 1901, and sold with 80 music rolls under aggressive bidding to a European buyer for $237,500.

A Mermod Freres Swiss cylinder music box from the third quarter of the 19th century was made in a walnut veneer case with ebony and satinwood trim and mounted on a five drawer cabinet that stored 18 additional cylinders. It had six airs and a lever wind and brought $40,000 under active bidding.

One of the charmers of the sale was a captivating Charles Bruguier vermeil and enamel fusee bird music box from the first half of the 19th century. The silver box was a mere 3 ¾ wide and showed an enamel coastal scene on the lid which enclosed a singing bird automaton. The work was signed in script ’Charles Bruguier Geneve per au grande’ and flew past the high estimate of $15,000 to achieve an impressive $28,750.

Select items from the maritime and China trade collection of Richard Kelton included an exceptional Lao Yan Qing He silver and gold teapot from the late 19th to the early 20th century. The gourd-form teapot had a yellow gold handle that was at least 18k gold. It stood 14 ¾ inches high and more than doubled the high estimate when a bidding war erupted and it realized $13,750, against a $3,000 to $5,000 estimate.

Another standout item from the Kelton Collection was an American John Dupee quadrant backstaff from 1754. It was made of carved and shaped hardwood with hand-carved measurements. The piece was signed and dated, was in overall good condition, and sold for $8,750, outdistancing the presale estimate of $2,000 to $3,000.

The sum of $10,000 was paid for a painting by Antonio Jacobsen (1850-1921 West Hoboken, NJ), of a Kroonland steamship, 1905. It depicted the ship in a choppy sea foreground and a dark cloudy sky background. The oil on canvas laid to canvas was signed, dated, and inscribed with the artist’s address. It measured 30 inches wide by 18 inches high and was derived from the Kelton collection.

Autos were also represented, and the headliner among them was a 1961 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Convertible, which dazzled auction previewers. It sported a black exterior with black leather interior, had a 1.9L/4 inline four-cylinder gasoline engine, and sold with the original Mercedes-Benz service book, a radio instruction manual, and catalog for $118,750. The mileage gauge showed 38,777.

Contact: (626) 793-1833,

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