UNUSUAL HALF HUNTER WITH UP/DOWN DIAL. A very fine and rare ormolu bronze mounted taxidermy Goldfinch singing bird desk automaton, second Grand Tour period, circa 1880, French. Most certainly by Blaise Bontems. The going-barrel brass-plate four pillar movement with three cams for head-turn, opening and closing beak and tailfeather bob, perfectly synchronised to the complex and sequential naturalistic birdsong, the full taxidermy European goldfinch bird with superb layered plumage in light grey, black and white, with flashes of red and yellow to head and wing tips, naturalistic beak and legs, black glass inset eyes, mounted upon the very well sand-cast and chased ormolued-bronze rectangular base, with natural top detailed with ground foliage, fallen branch and leaves, the main raised body with intermediate rope frieze relief, above classical acanthus leaf and halo reserve and plain base return, on small bun feet, the start/stop lever emerging from the side and the winding spindle to underside - size approximately 5in. Footnote: Singing bird automatons, where seen, are usually in box or cage form, but a few of the better makers, such as Bontems, Marguerat and Salmon produced very small numbers in non-standard cases.This model is known, although very rarely seen, is in complete original order and function. The birdsong has distinct sequences and, even to a connoisseur's ears, they may be forgiven for believing this may be a fusee-type movement and cam stack. This going-barrel movement has very complex-cut cams with deliberate pauses at quarter rotations. As the bird is totally exposed, survival rates have not appeared to have been good. This example however is in full working order, the movement has been inspected, checked over, and confirmed as being untouched since it was made.
The bellows are of good compression and the sound is clear and bright. The bird has been cleaned and the astonishing gilding of gold-on-bronze is absolutely perfect. This must have lived within the confines of a collector's cabinet perhaps for most of its life. A superb and rare example of how and why automata from this period is so endearing and magical today as it's always been.
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THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE YOU! The item "Very Fine and Rare Ormolu Bronze Taxidermy Goldfinch Singing Bird Automaton" is in sale since Wednesday, October 14, 2020. This item is in the category "Collectables\Household Collectables\Music Boxes". The seller is "smooth-trader" and is located in London, London.
This item can be shipped worldwide.