OLD - About our music boxes

Music boxes are made in many places in the world, but the Sorrento music boxes are special because of the wood they select, the technique they use, and the superior workmanship of the artisans.  The technique is a subtle and difficult art of putting together pieces of different colored wood to create the most complex and beautiful designs.

The beautiful colorful inlays are made without using any artificial coloring agent. Instead, they use wood veneers with different colors. 

The art is passed on from generations to generations.

After making the boxes, the insides are lined with velvet beds to hold jewels or other precious things. Underneath the velvet lining a musical device is added made of a rotating drum and small needles that pluck a tuned steel comb to produce music automatically when the box is opened.

Marquetry is an art which involves using the veneers of various colored wood pieces. The artist traces the picture on to the surface he wants. Then he selects the veneers of different colored wood. Next step is to cut pieces of the veneer in the shape he wants and stick them on to the relevant places, thus piecing together an elaborate picture of flowers or scenery on the surface. If a bit of shading is needed, the cut pieces are dipped in hot sand or hot sand is poured on to the relevant spots.

Inlay is slightly different. Here also pieces of different colored wood are used. But they are cut in the required shapes and assembled like a jigsaw puzzle to form intricate designs. Then this structure is incorporated into furniture, panels or boxes. Finishing of the work is done by polishing it with special lacquer.

Most of these music boxes produce music with the Swiss Reuge movements.

The Sorrento musical boxes are great collectibles. Now the number of the Sorrento artists is dwindling, as there are few youngsters interested in this traditional art. Still there are enough number of the traditional artisans still trying to save the art from being extinct.

Mercata Imports music boxes are sourced from Cuomo's Lucky Store.

Cuomo’s Lucky Store 1856 music boxes are based on the ancient technique called "marquetry", usually known as inlaid, and offers very high-quality products.

The popular traditional technique was developed by the Benedictines monks in the convent of St. Agrippino in Sorrento, during the VI–VII century.

The monks used to inlay and carve the wood in the workshop of their monastery using local timbers such as walnut, olive, orange, lemon, cherry, pear, and mulberry.   Now, many other woods are available such as walnut briar, palisander, sequoia briar, ebony, poplar briar, maple amarath, elm briar, padouk, bobinga, peroba, tulipe, afromosia, and avoidre.

Due to the large variety of woods, the use of modern shearing machinery, and other modern tools such as the double-end cross cut saw, very thin shim veneers (mm.0,6), and the inlay can simultaneously line together so that these cut linings form the base of the inlaid work.  In response to requests from customers, bright timbers are also used as the base.

"Marquetry" is obtained by stratifying linings of bright and dark woods in alternation.  Then the inlayer overlaps the pattern of the decoration to obtain on the top lining. Successively he performs the decoration by using the saw, while cutting the stratified veneers, automatically, and obtaining the different colored bits of inlaid wood, which fitted together give the decoration desired.

To accomplish blending, especially in floral designs, part of the inlaid bits performing the final decoration undergoes a preliminary treatment consisting in burnishing the bits to the blended into a sandblast room.

As regards decoration reproducing views the inlayer initially proceeds according to the basic technique above descripted, than introducing a variant, whose main characteristic consists in substituting the use of orange wood lining reproducing sky and rot lemon wood reproducing sea for the contrasting ground.

After that, the parquetry, chief characteristic of our products, is fixed to massive or laminate frameworks made in our joinery section. Than the manufacts pass through the smooth and polish stages which give our products that typical characteristic brilliancy, particularly thanks to special varnishes, like polyester varnish that let our products satisfy the taste of our customers.