Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fantastic musical automaton clock of an elephant worth £1.4 million

Check out this ormolu musical automaton clock by Peter Torckler. The piece was part of an auction held at Sotheby's in July of 2012. This beautiful machine is dated to around 1780 and was intended for a market in China with whom London had developed an impressive trade relationship. The piece was estimated to be worth £1,000,000 to £2,000,000 prior to the auction and found a buyer right in the middle of the range at £1.4 million.

A bejeweled whirligig spins above the animal. Below that, a figure of the Greek god Atlas, holds up a rotating sphere of the heavens. The elephant figure sits on a rockwork base inset with the clock dial. The automaton depicts an Asian elephant whose trunk, eyes, ears, and tail all move in appropriate ways. Below that, a small animated scene depicts falling water, tiny windmills, and spinning waterwheels. The musical movement, which will play a choice of six tunes, is hidden within the lower section.

[ Thanks Thomas! ]

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