This is a large coin-operated piece -- it takes the large old-style English penny. It features a clown with a fan. When the coin is inserted, music begins to play, and he covers his face with the fan.
Next, he raises the front panel on the box next to him to reveal...his head!
He pulls the fan away to reveal that his entire head is missing.The cycle then reverses until the machine stops running.
This piece was made by the younger Phalibois. (See Christian Bailly's Automata: The Golden Age, 1848-1914 for more information on Phalibois and other famous automaton makers of this era.)
Learn more about the auction in March at Skinner's website