Adam Partridge Auctioneers Cheshire
Auctioneer in Cheshire

11/11/2009 : John Nixon Videos Now Online

We are pleased to announce that we now have over 20 videos available of lots in the John Nixon sale; after all it is a Mechanical MUSIC sale.

This is another example of how Adam Partridge Auctioneers are leading the way with new technology in the auction room. This coincides with this week's announcement that Adam Partridge Auctioneers are into the final eight auction houses nominated for Online Auction House of the Year, voted for by users of



One man’s lifetime collection to be sold by Cheshire auctioneers Adam Partridge

Word of sale sets collecting world buzzing

One man’s remarkable lifetime collection of barrel organs, phonographs, wind-up gramophones and disc-playing Symphonions, Polyphons and other now rare and sought after antique mechanical music machines and related ephemera is to be dispersed in an auction which has set collectors buzzing worldwide.

The late John Nixon, of Biddulph Moor, Staffordshire, was a familiar figure at steam fairs and traction engine rallies throughout the country and even opened his home to the public so his collection could be seen, heard and enjoyed by the widest audience. He died in July, aged 59, and his family have instructed Congleton, Cheshire auctioneers Adam Partridge to give other collectors the opportunity to own objects from it.

The sale at The Gate Hall, Chain and Gate, North Rode, is on Saturday November 21. Highlights include:

* A Victorian walnut cased Polyphon complete with 10 assorted discs, which is estimated at £1,500-2,500
* A late 19th century walnut Symphonion with 10 discs (£2,000-3,000)
* An early 20th century Orchestrion by Kuhl & Klatt of Berlin (£1,200-1,800)
* A Weber baby grand “Duo-Art” player piano by Aeolian Co Ltd with 23 rolls (£800-1,000)
* A late 19th century Aeolian Orchestrelle player organ in fine mahogany case (£600-800)
* Mr Nixon’s favourite, a late 19th century ebonised and gilt street barrel piano by Pasquale of London (£500-700)
* A French clockwork piano Orchestrion by Leon Deletombe (£500-700)
* An ebonised “Piano Concerto Brevettato” organette plating from 10 books of music cards (£500-600)
* A late 19th century Bruder barrel organ (£400-600)
* A Pennyano coin operated clockwork barrel piano by Keith Prowse playing 10 tunes, one of them “Tricky Mickey Mouse”, 1927 (£300-500)
* An early 20th century portable reed barrel organ by A Veretto & Sons, Manchester (£300-500)
* A late 19th century ebonised Pianophon Orchestrion with four books of music (£200-300)
* Edison phonographs and wax cylinders (£150-250)
* A large selection of Symphonion and Polyphon discs (each £80-120)

Elsewhere, the collection includes a large number of organ and Pianola rolls; a selection of fairground photographs, books, music records, cassettes and CDs; related books and ephemera, musical instruments and a collection enamel advertising signs.

John Nixon was born in Biddulph Moor and educated at Biddulph Moor Primary School and Knypersley Hall Secondary School. He showed an early aptitude for mechanical engineering and joined the staff at Polarcold in Congleton. However, a serious work-related accident in 1988 left him disabled and effectively ended his career but he found light work at a Congleton fitness centre where he was employed to assemble and service equipment.

Being a confirmed bachelor, however, he was able to give full rein to his passion for so-called mechanical music machines. He had badges commemorating steam rallies all over the country dating back to 1962. He purchased his first wind-up gramophone in 1973 – one of several in the sale – and never stopped acquiring more and more examples of devices to produce music from the days before electricity.

From 1977, Mr Nixon was a familiar sight at steam rallies, charity events and weddings dressed in flat cap, waistcoat, red neckerchief and clogs with his 19th century street barrel piano, becoming known as “Cloggy” and “The Music Man”. The Pasquale piano – Lot 255 in the sale – is estimated at £500-700.

He built his own organ shed in 1986 to house his ever-growing collection and began inviting friends from around the country to enjoy the music. On the Good Friday bank holiday in 1992, Mr Nixon staged the first of his Open Days, which proved so popular that it became an annual event, many visitors saying that it was through him that they first became interested in mechanical music.

Following his accident, Mr Nixon started touring the country to attend rallies and shows, later becoming a regular traveller as a crew member with the Show Organ Society’s Whites Mammoth Gavioli fairground organ. In recent years, although still a regular at events, he spent more time in his workshop, where although only a hobby, he was an accomplished blacksmith.

A stalwart member of the Fair Organ Preservation Society, Mr Nixon was a great worker for charity and was well know for his wry sense of humour and his catch phrase “Just be good”. A memorial at Biddulph Moor Village Hall in September was attended by a large gathering of more than 200 of his friends and fellow collectors. Pictures of Mr Nixon's life were displayed around the hall and Mr Nixon's favourite fair organ and mechanical music was played.

In a new departure, the auctioneers have arranged for anyone interested to be able to hear some of the mechanical instruments in the sale on the Internet. Videos can be downloaded by searching for “adam partridge auction” at

Mr Nixon’s fellow collectors are sure to be among the bidders at the sale, viewing for which is on Friday November 20 from 12.00-6.00pm. The fully illustrated auction catalogue can be viewed online at and it will also be possible to bid in the sale in real time via the Internet by registering at Telephone and commission bidding can also be arranged through the auctioneers.

For further information, please contact Mark Littler at Adam Partridge, telephone 01260 274603.

We hope that you enjoy the videos:

LOT NUMBER 212 Mechanical Music A late 19th century French musical automaton doll.

LOT NUMBER 218 Mechanical Music A large inlaid walnut Stella disc musical box, table model, 44cm (17.25") discs, serial no.3778.

LOT NUMBER 219 Mechanical Music A disc musical box by Herman Ritter, with 40cm (15 5/8") discs, with associated table.

LOT NUMBER 221 Mechanical Music A late 19th century walnut cased table top Symphonion disc musical box, disc diameter 19.5cm (7æ") discs, serial no.361868, all teeth apparently present, case 27.5 x 22cm, height 16.5cm.

LOT NUMBER 222 Mechanical Music A late 19th century walnut cased disc musical player, with 23.5cm (9º") discs, serial no.1182, arm stamped 118273, working order, 29 x 27cm.

LOT NUMBER 223 Mechanical Music A late 19th century walnut cased Symphonion disc musical player, working order, with 21cm (8º") discs, case measures 36.5 x 28cm, height 22cm.

LOT NUMBER 224 Mechanical Music A late 19th century walnut Symphonion with 64.5cm (25 3/8") discs, serial no.402754, with ten discs.

LOT NUMBER 225 Mechanical Music A late 19th century walnut Polyphon, with 50cm (19æ") discs, c.1900, spring rivet dated 12/12/1900, serial no.17127, with ten discs.

LOT NUMBER 255 Mechanical Music A late 19th century ebonised and gilt decorated 55 key hand-turned street barrel piano by Pasquale & Co, London, with two-wheeled cart, c.1890-1910, with newspaper cuttings, photographs of restoration and the restorer, tune list and receipt.

LOT NUMBER 256 Mechanical Music An early 20th century barrel piano for restoration, with stamp for Pasquale & Co, serial no.1211, on wheeled street cart.

LOT NUMBER 258 Mechanical Music An ebonised organette "Piano Concerto Brevettato", with music, stool etc, 73 key, with ten books of music.

LOT NUMBER 259 Mechanical Music A 19th century rosewood cased pipe organ, on/off control for two drum beaters and triangle, 35 key including three percussion, plays eight tunes with tune list, lacking front.

LOT NUMBER 260 Mechanical Music A Weber baby grand "Duo-Art" pianola piano by Aeolian Co Ltd, with stool and 23 various rolls, includes service manual.

LOT NUMBER 261 Mechanical Music The Andersson pianoharpa table piano (mechanical dulcimer), patent 2239

LOT NUMBER 262 Mechanical Music A Pennyano coin operated clockwork barrel piano by Keith Prowse & Co, 48 key, clockwork case, serial no.3301, ten tunes (one being Tricky Mickey Mouse 1927), optional honky tonk/mandolin rail with original engraved glass.

LOT NUMBER 264 Mechanical Music An early 20th century oak orchestrion by Kuhl & Klatt of Berlin, with xylophone, with a quantity of rolls.

LOT NUMBER 265 Mechanical Music A late 19th century Aeolian Orchestrelle player organ in fine mahogany case, playing both 58 and 116 note rolls, c.1890-1910, with a quantity of rolls including Aeolian Solo music pipe organ rolls.

LOT NUMBER 267 Mechanical Music A late 19th century walnut cased 17-note Aurephone organette by John G Murdoch & Co, in gilt stencilled walnut case, stamped 2537, 30.5 x 25cm, height 21.5cm, with roll.

LOT NUMBER 268 Mechanical Music A late 19th century walnut cased eight air Serinette by JR Lafleur & Son, Green Street, Leicester Square, London, playing eight piped bird song airs, 28 x 22cm, height 16cm.

LOT NUMBER 269 Mechanical Music An early 20th century oak cased large table top cylinder player, 63 x 41cm, height 35cm, with 14 cobs (cylinders).

LOT NUMBER 270 Mechanical Music "The Cabinet"; an early 20th century table top roller organ/cylinder player by The Autophone Co, Ithaca, New York, retailed by Campbell & Co of Glasgow, first patented May 31st 1887, in gilt stencilled walnut case, crack to glass but otherwise in good working order, 43 x 38cm, height 32cm.

LOT NUMBER 272 Mechanical Music A late 19th century walnut cased roller organ "The Reed Pipe Clariona", 30.5 x 25.5cm, with three rolls.

Lot Number: 226
A Victorian walnut cased Fortuna polyphon musical disc player, with double comb mechanism playing 25 7/8" discs (65.6cm), with 66 assorted discs. This instrument is believed to have been originally sold in Edinburgh by the retailer R Felvuschenn, 86 St Vincent St., Glasgow and can be found in The Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments. The case has a pediment with turned finials above glazed door housing the internal mechanism, a disc bin below, height approx 225cm, width 84.5cm.
Category: Mechanical Music
Estimate: £4000 - £6000

Lot Number: 285
A late 19th century Bruder barrel organ, inlaid and ebonised case, width 70.5cm, depth 39cm, height 69.5cm, with brass capped feet.
Category: Mechanical Music
Estimate: £400 - £600

LOT 284

Lot Number: 284
An early 20th century portable reed barrel organ by A Varetto & Sons, Organ Builders & Repairers, Lower Broughton, Manchester, eight tunes listed on sheet, dated August 29th, with stand.
Category: Mechanical Music
Estimate: £300 - £500