Dear Suzana, The musical box you describe is indeed a lipstick case.
But it's origination is something quite different.
In the mid to late 1800's, cigars were very popular (immediately after
snuff lost its appeal!) The makers of musical boxes were searching for
more and more items to market with musical movements. Aha! A cigar
holder that concealed and protected the cigars until the music played.
The original ones were made of wood, and many models were made. They
all have the rotating doors you describe; I have seen them have up
to eight doors, each holding 2 cigars. As near as I can tell, the
porcelain, china, alabaster and marble lipstick cases are strictly a
20th Century reincarnation of the cigar cases. Most are really lovely
to look at, and they generally play 2 tunes: one as the doors open
and one as they close.
There are two variations of the mechanism. After you push the start
button, the more sophisticated mechanism operates a gear that opens the
doors through the first tune and closes them through the second tune.
The less intricate mechanisms play after you manually open the doors
and stop when you close the doors.
See guys -- I didn't come up missing. Anyone want to hear about the
West Palm, MBSI meeting and the Milhous Collection?
[ Sure, tell us everything! :-) -- Robbie