Saturday, June 18, 2011

$6 million dollar singing bird pistol automata

This pair of singing bird automaton pistols made the rounds all over the internet a few weeks ago. I didn't post about them at the time because they seem to be so well covered. Even so, I would be remiss in my duties if I never shared them here on The Automata / Automaton Blog. Perhaps a few of you missed these astounding works of mechanical art? Prepare to be dazzled.

Created by Frères Rochat of Geneva, Switzerland around 1820, this is the only known pair of of singing bird pistol of their kind. The matched set is made of materials that include precious metals, diamonds and pearls. After winding and pulling the trigger, a tiny bird -- complete with real feathers -- pops out of the barrel, flaps its wings and tail, spins about, and opens its beak while singing a realistic birdsong. All of this in an incredibly small scale. What's more, the set is in unbelievably good condition. Do watch the video included here. Amazing.

So what is a rare treasure like this worth? Christie's auctioned the set off last month for $5.8 million USD in what was described as an epic bidding war between two prominent collectors.

Here is a link on the Christie's web site about the Singing Bird Pistols by Frères Rochat

[ Thanks Thomas! ]

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Blogger DaveGoodchild said...

Mouth drops open in awe... kind of makes modern technology look a bit lazy and uninspired by comparison. People have been very clever and very inventive for a very, very long time. Completely amazing.
Thanks for posting this, it had totally passed me by.

June 19, 2011 at 4:28 AM  
Blogger Dug North said...


I have to agree with you. We give ourselves so much credit these days for all that we can do. Or...all that we *think* we can do. But, how many of us could get our heads around a mechanism such as this? How many craftsmen in the world could make it? How many could do it with the tools at hand in 1820? It boggles the mind.


June 19, 2011 at 9:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home