Auctioneers and Appraisers

Rare Ives General Grant Smoker Automaton

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Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2345
Date / Time :
July 29, 2006 10:00AM


Rare Ives General Grant Smoker Automaton, with painted cast-metal head and hands, hollow wooden torso and legs with jointed metal boots, sitting cross-legged on red-painted scroll backed chair on walnut base, the open-spring mechanism driving a single cam and piston causing the General to turn his head, raise the cigarette holder to his lips, draw smoke through the mouth and then exhale, in original costume, ht. 14 in., (face retouched), two movements.

Literature: Blair Whitton, American Clockwork Toys, 1862 - 1900, pp. 142 and 149.
Note: Patented by Albert H. Dean of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in October 1877, Ives employed a unique piston system to produce the General's smoking action. In most French smoking automata, the smoke is pulled from the cigarette arm, through bellows in the base or the body, and then expelled through the mouth. However, in Ives' design, the smoke is actually drawn from an opening in the lips, through a tube in the body, to the brass cylinder in the base, where a piston then pushes the smoke back through the pipe and out of the General's mouth. This is made possible by the air-tight seal created by the perfect alignment between cigarette-holder and lips. As such, General Grant is the only true 19th Century smoking automaton which actually inhales. Early advertisements claimed that the automaton was capable of blowing perfect smoke rings. Running for over an hour on one winding, the long duration of the mechanism would have made the General Grant Smoker an ideal (and very early) advertising automaton.
Estimate $12,000-18,000


Grant Smoker Automaton, cast-metal head , chair , jointed metal boots, Blair Whitton, Albert H. Dean, Bridgeport, Connecticut, Grant Smoker, advertising automaton, Automaton, Cigar, Cigarette, Smoking, Tobacco