Mechanical Music Auctions & Valuations

We hold three sales a year of mechanical music, within our highly popular Musical Instruments sale. There has been a market for mechanical musical instruments for more than the last 250 years. Generally clockwork, they come in many different types.

Probably the most common is the cylinder music box. These have a central, usually brass, cylinder with small pins that pluck steel combs. More intricate movements include bells struck by butterfly hammers and drums. The more famous makers include: Lecoultre & Falconnet, Nichole Freres, Allard & Co and Jean Billon-Haller .

A late 19th Century Swiss music box, by A. Rivenc & Cie, circa 1892,

with three interchangeable cylinders



Automata are amongst the most popular of mechanical musical items. Many Automatons have movable parts including dolls playing increments, acrobats, ship clocks and birds in cages. Amongst the best of makers is Leopold Lambert, born in Aix-en-Provence in 1854, and worked as an apprentice to Gustav Vichy.  In 1886, Lambert decided to open his own business - a workshop for production of the mechanical dolls, musical automata and expensive luxury items similar to products by Vichy.


    A ''Gentleman Smoker'' musical automaton,

by Leopold Lambert, c.1890, 



Leopold Lambert, Paris: a musical automaton, 

modelled as a seated mandolin player,


A late 19th Century musical automaton bird cage, 


A Swiss gilt metal and enamel ''Singing Bird'' automaton music box,



An ornate Swiss white metal ''Singing Bird'' automaton music box,



Our specialists offer free, friendly and personal pre-sale valuation advice, either at our offices, by email or at your home, by appointment. Single objects through to whole collections welcome. For higher value collections we travel throughout the UK.

We also value items for probate and insurance. 

All of our medal auctions offer live online bidding which, together with our extensive worldwide database of collectors, dealers and enthusiasts, ensures that your items have every opportunity to obtain the best possible price. We act as your agent at all times and are here to maximise your return, for which we take a fixed percentage commission .

Remember, auction is the best way to realise the true value of your collection. Please be wary of firms who recommend that you don't sell at auction, but instead, steer you towards selling privately, for a fixed price, to 'awaiting buyers/collector's'.  They themselves are often the ones actually buying the items from you, at a less than generous price, to sell on for a large profit.  

Submit details below for an online medal valuation or ring 0191 430 3000 to arrange a valuation at our Newcastle salesroom. 



Request a valuation

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Fred Wyrley-Birch

Fred Wyrley-Birch

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Next Auction

The Music Auction
The Music Auction
26th Jun, 2024 10:00
Last consignment: 6th Jun, 2024