Geneva, May 15, 2023

LOT 339


CHF 70,000 - 130,000

EUR 72,000 - 134,000 / USD 79,000 - 148,000 / HKD 620,000 - 1,150,000

Sold: CHF 81,250

Very fine and important, gold and enamel, pearl-set, snuff box with a concealed watch and automaton.
Case with three compartments: the central compartment for the snuff, having a lid decorated with a finely painted basket of flowers within a half pearl border. The side compartments with spring-loaded covers, the left one for the automata and the right one for the watch, both covered with predominantly royal blue translucent enamel over 'sunburst' engine-turning with borders in white enamel and half pearls, the sides en suite. The bottom painted with a butterfly with open wings in translucent red enamel against royal blue translucent enamel, the same as on the sides, over engine-turning. Under the left lid is an automaton pastoral scene with a shepherdess raising and lowering her hand, feeding a lamb which moves its head up and down; in the front a grazing sheep nods its head and a dog with animated head drinks from a stream running from the mill, with turning waterwheel and a small waterfall simulated by a twisted glass rod. All figures in multicolores gold and silver, set polychrome enamel painted scene over gold. Under the right lid is the watch.

Grading System
Case: 3-32


Slightly restored

Movement: 3*


Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-01


HANDS Original

Brand Attributed to Piguet & Capt., Switzerland

Year Circa 1810

Material 18K yellow gold

Caliber 30 x 19 mm, full brass plate, semi-circular, going barrel, cylinder escapement, steel escape wheel, plain brass three-arm balance, flat balance spring. The automaton movement: 30 x 19 mm, semi-crcular, full brass plate, fixed barrel, seven wheel train with the last pinion on eccentric adjustable bushing to regulate the speed of the automated movements.

Dimensions 81 x 44 x 14 mm.

Signature Case stamped M under a 3-prong crown, possibly Jaques Moulinié


A box of identical shape, with identical automaton and watch movements, was in the Pierpont Morgan Collection, described in the catalogue under No. 85, and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. Another one is preserved in the Sandoz Collection, described by Alfred Chapuis and Edmond Droz in 'Les Automates', plate VII and p.180.

Piguet & Capt (active between 1802 and 1811) Specialised in the production of complicated watches, musical and/or automaton scenes incorporated into watches, snuff-boxes or objects. Among the first in Geneva to use the musical mechanism with pinned cylinder and tuned teeth comb. From Ventôse 16, An X (March 7, 1802), to 1811, Henry-Daniel Capt (1773-1841) formed a partnership with Isaac-Daniel Piguet (1775-1841), who was from the same village - Le Chenit - as he in the Vallée de Joux. Their signature was Piguet & Capt. In 1811, when Piguet broke off to join Philippe-Samuel Meylan (1772-1845) in a new partnership, Henry-Daniel Capt continued to work on his own until, in 1830, he went into partnership with Aubert and Son, Place Bel-Air. Their signature was Aubert & Capt. They were among the first Genevan makers to produce watches with chronograph. In 1844, the workshop was at 108, rue Neuve in Geneva. It was then managed by Capt's son, Henry Capt Jr. After a short time it moved to 85, rue de la Fusterie, and in 1851, to 177, rue du Rhône. In 1880, the firm was bought by Gallopin and its name became H. Capt Horloger, Maison Gallopin Successeurs, a trademark registered on November 1, 1880, under the No. 44. This signature was only used for watches retailed in their own store, the watches supplied to other retailers being merely signed Henry Capt. Henry-Daniel Capt, along with Isaac-Daniel Piguet and Philippe-Samuel Meylan, was the foremost maker of small musical automata in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Most of his work is not signed, although he sometimes scratched his name on his movements.


Published in the Sandberg book, pages 418-419.
lot 201 from the Sandberg collection.