A fine antique black accordion player musical automaton, by Gustave Vichy,
Vichy catalogue number 602
Mr Music, please, will you play...
When wound and the start/stop pull actuated, the accordionist begins performing the first of two melodies, moving his head from one side to the other, tapping his foot to the time, whilst pulling and pushing repeatedly the side of the instrument to pump the bellows, finishing with a nod of the head before starting over again.
The two air cylinder movement playing a popular waltz and a passage from La Traviata. The seated black player with fine painted papier-mâché head, hands, legs and feet, and black wig under silk cap. Dressed in the southern style with buttercup yellow shirt, patterned brown waistcoat and green lined petit-cheque cream jacket, duet-tone green trousers with ruffled hems.
Perched on the gilt framed stool which contains the movement, dressed with red velvet panels framed with gold bead pleats.
Size - 23" Tall ( 58cm )
Point of Interest -
Vichy's catalogue entry for 602 shows the slight variations available, with either black girl or boy, modelled around the same head, stool and body. The dressage made and finished completed the sex chosen by the original purchaser of the automaton.
The standard 24-key reed accordion was the instrument of choice for street entertainers, mainly for the reasons that being cheap if bought second or third hand, plus they were easy to play if the musician could not read music and relied on playing music by ear or was blind. The bellows on this tiny yet beautiful miniature expand and contract delightfully, even shaping to the familiar S form when the end plate is not in line in the fully expanded position. Such detail, comforting action and sweet written-scored music - the magic bell of the Vichy workshops strikes again.