This extremely rare automaton blackbird can trace its "ancestry" back to antiquity. Indeed, mechanical animals are among the oldest forms of automata - a mechanical dove was created around 400 B.C. by Archytas of Tarentum! During the 18th century, inventors such as Jacques de Vaucanson sought to mimic natural functions, as with Vaucanson's famous duck, made around 1738. Today, Sony's robot dog Aibo can actually learn and interact with its master much the same as a live animal. When the makers of automata and horological pieces devoted themselves to the animal kingdom, they gave particular attention to the movements and characteristics of each species. Some mechanical animals were veritable pieces of jewelry made of precious metal and decorated with pearls, enamels, and precious stones. Others were more realistic: the 1828 inventory of the Piguet & Meylan workshop is said to have listed a souris mécanique en peau naturelle. . This blackbird automaton is extremely rare; only two others are known. One is in a private collection and the other, formerly in the Sandoz collection, is now on display in Le Locle's Musée des Monts. Its lifelike appearance is due to the mechanism's being contained within its body, allowingthe bird to stand freely. Thus, the movements of its head, wings and beak, and its song, all seem to be spontaneous. This rare mechanical bird is attributed to the Parisian artisan Blaise Bontems 1814-1893. Bontems was the foremost specialist in singing birds and the founder of a veritable dynasty of singing bird makers, which included his son Charles Jules and his grandson Lucien. A Bontems cousin, Alfred, founded his own rival firm. The Bontems account books for the year 1879 mention two "bronze birds", feathered to resemble a tanagertangara rouge, sold to clients in Paris and Moscow. Truly a blackbird fit for a king !
3 very good
DETAILS 14 multiple dents
3* very good (overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense)
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