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A Bontems clockwork cyclist automaton
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A Bontems clockwork cyclist automaton

Details
A Bontems clockwork cyclist automaton
with bisque shoulder-head, painted eyes and moulded blonde hair, seated on red metal tricycle with black and yellow line decoration, in original silk breeches, remains of blue jacket with red cuffs and matching cap, the going-barrel movement causing the tricycle to move forwards and left and right, the brass bedplates stamped B.B Déposè in a circle, in cardboard box - 9in. (23cm.), (lacking arms and leg)
Special Notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

Hand-written text on the box lid reads: "Bycle Man (sic). Bought at the Paris Exhibition 1877, for Nelson by his father (Charles Hillier). J.T.H. 1938 July 31st packed away.

Although various French companies (including Vichy and Theroude) produced cyclist automata, the initials BB on the motor suggest Blaise Bontems as a maker. Bontems is mainly known as a maker of singing birds, but the original firm under Blaise also produced mechanical pictures and other small automata figures. Blaise Bontems was involved in the firm from its creation in 1849 until his death in 1881.

See also lot 507.
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