Rolling Music Box

Rolling Music Box with additional percussion idiophones, Sainte-Croix, Switzerland, around 1895.
Courtesy of Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

The first mechanical rolling music boxes were produced by Swiss Jura watchmakers – the very watchmakers whose proto-anarchist communal form of living and working inspired Piotr Kropotkin to write his anti-Darwinian manifesto “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution“(1902).
They were soon to become one of the most important Swiss export goods
Watches were almost the only Western commodity to pass muster with China’s rigorous, highly aesthete emperor. The Chinese emperor, who otherwise could not warm to European trade goods, collected rolling music boxes from the Jura. The one shown here was equipped with additional percussion idiophones.