Last Updated: 10/8/2008


"Mechanical Singing-bird Tabatières," by Geoffrey T. Mayson. Published in 2000 by Robert Hale, London. Hard cover with dust jacket, 256 pages with over 200 color photographs and several in black-and-white. The book measures 10 inches (25.25 cm) high by 7-3/4 inches (19.5 cm) wide.

This book is a superb document of the history and development of the Singing Bird craft that took place in Switzerland, Germany and France from the late Eighteenth through the Twentieth Centuries.

Text from the dustjacket is as follows:

"The mechanical singing-bird tabatière which began life in the 1780's as a rich nobleman's toy and later became an affordable commercial article, consists of a rectangular box made of base metal, precious metal or tortoiseshell with an oval decorated lid. When the lid is lifted a miniature mechanical bird stands upright and produces an unbroken stream of birdsong. At the end of its performance the bird falls back into the box and the lid closes

Mechanical Singing-bird Tabatières is the only book on the subject and has been written by the man uniquely qualified to do so. Geoffrey Mayson devoted a large part of his life to restoring tabatières and was renowned throughout the USA and Europe for his work.

Singing-bird boxes are much sought-after today but until now there has been very little information about them. Geoffrey Mayson's Mechanical Singing-bird Tabatières is a complete record of the development, construction and restoration of these miniature mechanical marvels and is beautifully illustrated with over 200 colour illustrations. It is destined to become the definitive reference."



  1. What is a Singing-bird Box?
  2. Jaquet-Droz to Reuge - A Brief Historical Survey
  3. How to Identify a Singing-bird Box
  4. Fusee-driven Movements, 1815-1880
  5. Fusee-driven Movements, 1785-1815
  6. Fusee-driven Movements, Signatures, Numbers and Dates
  7. Going Barrel Movements, France
  8. Twentieth-century Swiss and German Makers
  9. The Products of Karl Griesbaum
  10. Miscellaneous Singing-bird Mechanisms
  11. The Bellows
  12. Making Replacement Valves
  13. Making Song and Air Cams
  14. Making, Restoring and Refeathering Birds
  15. Restoring the Boxes


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