This is mechanical singing bird cage or automaton in style made famous by French automaton maker Bontems. It was known for very realistic sound, and this piece is a perfect example of skill of days go by. The bird when wound, would move and sing in enchanting song. His little head would turn and his tails raise and lower. The cage is majestic brass and features nice ornamentation at the base, intermittent twisted bars and a decorated ring. The bottom of the cage has a lining and vine foliage winding up the perch. Everything is original.
The Automata has an exquisite dome with excellent clarity and perfection. This lovely hard to find size glass dome is in excellent original condition.
When wound with the key the large and beautifully feathered plumaged the large taxidermy bird perched on a branch would begin to sing, with turning head, opening and closing beak and bobbing tail feathers, to the slight-paused continuous birdsong.
The bird is red in color. He is a beautiful bird, and captures the essence of his species. Please note the lovely muted red coloring of the bird’s feathers that are accented by his dark grey crown, and a spotting of dark feathers on his wing tips. His lovely red plumage morphs into a dark grey coloring on his tail feathers. He is atop a tree branch that decorated with leafage and acorns. His tiny brown feet contrast beautifully with the lighter colored branch. He is very lifelike, and beautifully modeled. At the bottom of the cage are numerous colorful plants in relief in muted greens,browns, and red. The gilded cage with Ormolu appointments is decorated in relief of scrolls and diamond-form patterns. Under the majestic trolled bronze cage top is an ornate base with Rococo embossing.
Size: Approximately 21 inches tall by 10 inches square
The appraisal stated French 1870, but did not note the maker’s name.
There should be on the bottom of the cage a label, but due to the fragility of the large glass dome, I have not yet lifted it to turn the cage on its side. I plan soon to look on the underside which I’m hoping will have there the Maker’s label.
This piece is not to be underestimated as it is rare to find an Automato such as this one.
Condition: Good condition for its age, but since it is over 150 years old there is some wear. Some original feathers, missing, The original flowers are inside cage. Some age wear on fabric & metal surface.
As to the Mechanism, limited functioning:
Requires professional adjustment as to the singing mechanism . I am not a professional in this field and inherited this piece. It appears to have all is original parts, but as to the performance of the singing mechanism I assume that it would be unpredictable, as the cage has been in storage for quite some time. I plan to wind it up and try it and will update my listing as to its function.
(I remember this piece as a child and many years ago when this Bird Cage was operable , my Father would wind it up and I would be thrilled by the sound of the bird. It was clear like real birds in the forest.)