On Tuesday, May 10, Maître Claude Aguttes, auctionneer, will scatter under his gavel the diverse and scientific collection of Michel Siméon (1926 – 2020). Well know in collectors’ circles, he gathered throughout his life more tan 3,000 objects and put a lot of them back into working order.

Today, almost every object is working and, thanks to a very precise inventory, the usefulness of each device remain known. This extremly rare collection bears witness to a passion, a knowledge, and to the beginnings of electricity and telecommunications, while telling us what a collector is. A collection, built up for 55 ans years, worthy of those in some museums !  

These pieces, that bear witness to the humanity’s inventiveness and research as well as to the evolutions of society, are from the 19th and 20th century. They stand out for their modernity, for the ingeniosity necessary to their creation, but also for their aesthetic qualities. This auction will surprise and fascinate collectors ; decorators and the public will also be able to get a hold at reels of wires, Geissler tubes, the neon’s ancestor, and gramophones to personalise an interior. Radios, telegraphs, medical and physical instruments, and other electrostatic and unusual machines make up this collection.  

Michel SIMÉON (1926 - 2020) 
Emerite bargain-hunter among his astonishing and remarkable collection

Michel Siméon started this fabulous adventure as a teenager. In the 30s, the emerite collector succeded in reproducing, from spare parts, a radio station that no longer worked. Years went by, and his passion only grew. When he became an adult, this passionate man went, every Sunday, from 6 am onwards, to various flea markets in his area, and came back for the family lunch with all his treasures. He retired early, at 56, and he was able to enjoy his free time fully, to fulfill his passion, and to enjoy his house to store all of his findings.

Geisslet Tube « Paris »
Total length: 22 cm

Among the top lots, this Geissler tube, taking the form « Paris » is to be remembered. This small glass tube, invented in 1857 by the physicist Heinrich Geissler, represents the ancestor of the neon light. At first objects of laboratory, Geissler tubes became, during the 1880s, objects of curiosity and untertainment. Thanks glass blowers, they exist in multiple shapes and colors, and many of them were manufactered. The copy « Paris » was noticed because of its incredible modernity and its perfect illustration of this particular manufactur. To activate it, you have to put high voltage in the tube, partialy under vacuum: this is what creates this light, whose color is so special. Pascal Siméon, one of the 6 children of the collectors, thinks that this tube contained, among other things, a fluorescent liquid. The invention of the Geissler tubes allowed the discovery of the electrons and , later, the creation of electronic vacuum tubes used in particular in the operation of a television.

Wimshurst machine in glass and metal, the base in blackened wood
H. 62 x L. 50 x P. 28 cm


Another notable lot, as much for its technical prowess as for its aesthetic : the Wimhurst machine ! It is an electrostatic machine invented in 1882 : 2 insulating plates rotates in opposite directions. The outer surfaces of the two large discs, recovered with metalic areas, rub against metal brushes connected to load cylinders. These, in turn, are connected to a spark gap made up of two closely spaced metal spheres, allowing an electric arc to be produced when there is a sufficient difference in potential between the two spheres. This device invented by James Wimshurst simply reproduces the effects of a thunderstorm as it occurs naturally. This study machine was a crucial step in the discovery of electricity.

Ondes musicales Martenot 
Meuble en bois clair sur quatre pieds, clavier à ruban souple mobile
H. 82 x L. 123 x P. 50 cm


Invented by Maurice Martenot (1898 – 1980), the ondes Martenot, or Martenot waves impose themselves as one of the first electronic music instrument, with theremine, created in Russia in 1919. This instrument, played by an "ondiste" (understand, "wavist") was presented for the first time at the Opera de Paris in 1928, after its inventor filed the patent in 1922. The ondes Martenot can be considered the ancestor of the synthesizer. To illustrate, the frenco-greek compositor Dimitrios Levidis composed especially for this new instrument, the symphonic poem for solos of orchestras and Martenot waves, and Maurice Martenot played it with the orchestra Pasdeloup. The instrument was immediatly successful : compositors such as Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, or even André Jolivet, composed songs for this instrument, and the instrument played along with sacred giants of french music, such as Édith Piaf, Léo Ferré or Jacques Brel…      

More than 3,000 objects from the Siméon collection are going to be scattered during the auction. Today, the children of this prodigous collector wish to honor their father, and to offer a new life to all these objects. Brothers and sisters spent an entire year making the inventory of every piece, before they decided to auction off the collection. Over 800 boxes were necessary to carry away every piece, among them there were some 900 discs and more than 700 radio stations.


« In forty years of career, never have I seen such a collection. I only care about what is not ordinary, and the aesthetic. and technical aspects of this whole fascinated me. This is really the work of auctioneed as I like it ! » Claude Aguttes, auctioneer

Multiple Online Only auctions will follow up on the May 10, 2022 auction. There is no work value for most of the 219 lots of the catalog, but the estimations should start between 10 and 100 euros.


Tuesday 10 May, 2022, 2.30 pm 

Exhibition on appointmenent starting Monday 2 May 

Aguttes Neuilly


François Rault 
Auctioneer, Inventories
+33 6 69 33 85 16 •