Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Antique miniature spinning wheel automaton made of bone

This interesting automaton of a woman spinning wool is currently for sale on ebay. When the handle is turned, the spinning wheel spins. The female figure lifts her left arm, pulling the wool, as she turns her head from side to side.

Front view of miniature spinning wheel automaton

The piece measures 1-1/4 inches wide by 2 inches long and a little over 4 inches high. While the seller is not certain of its provenance, a search on the internet revealed similar examples that were described as "French Prisoner of War creations", which were made from scraps of cow and pig bone. The prisoner of war notion certainly adds a lot of interest and backstory if true. The piece is possibly from the 1840s.

I love the small spur gear and the mating lantern pinion. I also love the shape of the handle as well as the pulley that drives the spinning wheel. The material, whatever it is, is interesting and looks like it machines or carves well. A fascinating piece of kinetic folk art.

Check out a bunch of large, detailed photographs as well as the rather hot bidding action on this antique miniature spinning wheel automaton.

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