Eye On Design: Freddie Mercury’s Peacock Wurlitzer Juke Box

1941 wurlitzer juke box photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

An absolute  highlight of my recent London vacation was a visit to Sotheby’s for a tour of Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own, featuring the entire contents the late icon’s estate, Garden House. Virtually everything Freddie ever owned will be sold off in 6 separate auctions starting September 6th. Presented here is Freddie’s antique jukebox, a 1941 Wurlitzer model 850 Peacock design. Designed by Paul Fuller (18971951), this multi-colored illuminated Wurlitzer delighted Freddie with its depictions of two peacocks at the front.

peacock jukebox front left side view photo by gail worley

The jukebox has twenty-four 78rpm selections (adapted to 45rpm), and features a walnut laminate-veneered case with yellow and red plastic panels, the front with a glazed peacock panel, bubbling tubes and chrome metal fretwork.

peacock jukebox front finish detail photo by gail worley

Paul Fuller created striking new effects on the jukeboxes he designed  through his pioneering use of shimmering catalin plastic, ‘liquid fire’ bubble tubes and polaroid film. His designs were also informed by historical design: the extravagant 850 model, the last one he designed before the USA entered the Second World War, recalls both 1920s Art Deco with its peacock panel and also fin-de-siècle Art Nouveau with its fluid metal mounts.

Fuller’s jukeboxes are also known for their dynamic sense of spectacle, with novel flashing lights that often moved or even changed color, as with the peacocks on this model.

peacock wurlitzer detail photo by gail worley

Stocked predominantly with  Freddie’s collection of early rock ‘n’ roll,  soul, and R&B singles, when I passed the jukebox the extended dance mix of Spandau Ballet’s “To Cut a Long Story Short” (an old favorite of mine) could be heard coming from its speakers.

peacock jukebox front right side view photo by gail worley

The Peacock Jukebox was situated in several sites across the ground floor of Garden Lodge, before finding a permanent place in the kitchen. This item goes up for Auction on September 6th at 12:00  Noon EDT and is estimated to go for between15,00025,000 GBP (though it will end up selling for twice the high end estimate, I am sure). Visit this page at Sotheby’s to register to bid.

1941 peacock wurlitzer juke box photo by gail worley

Photographed at Sotheby’s Auction House in London, UK.

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