This afternoon, Saturday 17th, I just learned of the death this morning
in Sainte-Croix (Switzerland), where he was established since 25 years,
of Michel Bertrand, aged 70, a famous French restorer and maker of automatas.
In addition to his restoration job, he made many new automatas,
either after the best old ones (e.g., Vichy) or after his own designs.
In auctions, they usually fetch now the same high range of prices as
the old ones.
These last years, he retired from business, but with his wife
Jacqueline, he was present at many festivals, especially in France.
Both turned together in synchronization (a quite difficult exercise!)
the handles of two very good and large modern German Hofbauer mech-
anical organs, to the utmost pleasure of the audience.
I had the privilege of meeting him one last time on March 29th, and we
spent a very pleasant hour indeed, discussing and playing music boxes,
automatas, and mechanical organs. When accompanying me to the gate,
he told me : "Illness is really a naughty experience, Philippe. Enjoy
your life as much as you can, because it is so short, and there is so
much to see and to do !". Of course, I shall not forget that moment.
He was ill (cancer) for many months, but showed a remarkable lucidity
and courage facing this terrible illness, not complaining and always
keeping a sense of humour, and an interest in the activities of people
The burial ceremony took place in Sainte-Croix on Thursday April 20th.
Those who knew him may write to his wife :
Rue des Pierrots
CH-1453 Bullet (SUISSE)
Philippe Rouille (Paris, France)