Search for over 100 million sold objects in our Price Bank

Attributed to Blaise Bontems, Paris, circa 1860. 60. Extremely rare and spectacular singing automaton blackbird turning its head, flapping its wings, and opening its beak as it sings.
Sold

About the object

Attributed to Blaise Bontems, Paris, circa 1860. 60. Extremely rare and spectacular singing automaton blackbird turning its head, flapping its wings, and opening its beak as it sings.\n\nC. Superbly made and feathered to resemble a real blackbird, body formed of a brass shell, blackened brass legs and real beak. M. Shaped, brass, going barrel, cams controlling the song and the bird's movements, rectangular bellows mounted in the tail, piston below.Dim. Length 21 cm, height 11 cm.
CH
CH
CH

notes

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 tanager“tangara rouge”, sold to clients in Paris and Moscow. Truly a blackbird fit for a king !

condition

Case

3 very good

DETAILS 14 multiple dents

Movement

3* very good (overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense)

Experts' Overall Opinion

exceptional


*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.

*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.


Advert
Advert

Sold objects