Auctioneers and Appraisers

Rare Gustave Vichy Automaton of a Drunkard

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Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2314
Date / Time :
November 03, 2005 10:00AM


Rare Gustave Vichy Automaton of a Drunkard, with papier-mache character head, smiling brown glass eyes, feathered brows, closed mouth, double-chin, dimpled cheeks, mohair wig and rotund stomach with molded shirt front, holding a painted beer-stein and leaning against a paneled cupboard on simulated painted tiled floor and circular green papier-mache base containing the two-air going-barrel movement, in the original olive-green breeches, striped stockings, leather shoes, tricorn hat, ruffled shirt, burgundy jacket with mother-of-pearl buttons and later flowing cape, ht. 22 in., (good original condition), with Vichy stop / start and threaded brass key.

Note: The figure raises the stein four times in a toast, nods his head and rubs his stomach with his left hand, then rubs his stomach and raises the stein simultaneously, swaying from side to side to lean on the cupboard. This is the rare companion piece to the Vichy's Pumpkin Eater, a plump figure with the identical head, body and base, who slices open a pumpkin to reveal a mouse. The only other recorded example of this automaton was sold at Theriault in May 2004.
Provenance: Originally owned by the industrialist Curtze family of Erie, Pennsylvania, the automaton was given to the vendor's great-aunt (who was a servant at the house), along with a tea service and an organette, when the family home was turned into a museum. She named the automaton the "Music Man" and kept him in a cupboard, taking him out once a year to show the children at Christmas.
Estimate $15,000-20,000


Gustave Vichy Automaton, identical head , Pennsylvania, Erie, Music Man, Automaton, Robotics