A very fine, early, and unusually Monkey Chamber Orchestra Musical Automaton Picture is coming up for sale in the Scientific and Musical Instruments, Cameras and Tools Sale at Tennants on 29th September with an estimate of £4,000-5,000 (plus buyer’s premium).
Made in France, circa 1860, and bearing the signature ‘Riviere’, the picture has a key-wind cylinder movement and plays four airs. This very early example shows the pre-commercial design of larger wooden dowels operating the actions of the musicians at the back of the picture, together with wire and card weight balances. Unusually, the delicate mechanics of the automaton picture are complete and original.
These superb box framed-format automatons from the early to late 19th century are usually smaller sized examples featuring cats and dogs. Monkeys and people are far rarer amongst the few surviving examples. With refined examples such as this, the effect when running is astonishing with the movement of the monkeys correctly synchronised to the music.