Hans Mollet “Beauchant” (manufacterer and dealer of music of boxes, 1949–1954)

H. Mollet & Co. “Beauchant” (manufacterer and dealer of music of boxes, 1954–mid-1960s)

Hans Mollet [...] ran the blacksmith´s situated on the corner of the Rue du Jura and Petit-Montreux and created a company named Beauchant (beautiful song) on 1st July 1949 to manufacture and sell musical movements and objects, and light engineering products. For some time [...] the development of the musical movement industry was exceptional, the demand was high and the temptation for an ingeniuos and experienced mechanic to partake in this unexpected prosperity equally so. Many companies, which had the same objectives, were created. Competition became serious indeed for local outsiders with trepidation. Hans Mollett, the blacksmith (always nicknamed “Mollette”) was no exception. The committee of the Société industrielle et commerciale wrote to the municipality saying that it was preoccupied and hoped that the authorities would exercise strict control over new ventures.

During the 1950s, local manufacturers were locked in a veritable price war.

They declared a two-year truce and signed a convention defining minimum prices. One of the non-avowed objectives of this agreement – as far as the solidly established larger manufacturers were concerned – was to prevent excessive undercutting on the part of new companies who rushed into production with little or no means and tended to sell too cheaply in order to keep their heads above water. Such was also the case of Beauchant who, just before signature of the convention, and under pressure from an important client, was the first to accept prices lower than those fixed by the manufacturers. Nevertheless Hans Mollett approved the agreement but, like his competitors, found it very hard to adhere it. And the following year, he admitted, like so man others, having had to surrender a large quantity of movements at inferior prices, as his client threatened to refuse the goods´ (SIC archives 1st May 1954) A few months later, more than likely weary of this incessant internal war, he proposed the creation of a central office in charge of distributing music box orders among all the manufacturers. What he did not know, however, was that this idea had already been proposed and seriously investigated in 1902. What all the others knew was that the project was unrealistic, given the individualistic and competitive nature of the industry.

In 1954, Hans Mollet made his private company into a limited partnership under the same name, H. Mollet & Co. Beauchant, with identical objectives. He continued to produce musical movements and was even one of the first to obtain orders from the American toy manufacturer Fisher Price, which continued coming in until the mid-1960s. He gradually gave up this type of production and concentrated on his basic blacksmith´s operation, where he employed no more than two people in 1971. […] (Piguet 2004, S. 274-275)