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Exquisite Automatons and Treasures of Science

Published on , by Sophie Reyssat
Auction on 20 October 2020 - 14:30 (CEST) - Hôtel des ventes, 164 bis, avenue Charles-de-Gaulle - 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine

A box with automatons attributed to Frères Rochat and a Maghreb astrolabe top the bidding.

Attributed to Frères Rochat, Geneva, c. 1820, music box with automatons in yellow,... Exquisite Automatons and Treasures of Science

Attributed to Frères Rochat, Geneva, c. 1820, music box with automatons in yellow, rose and green gold with enamel decoration; melody played by means of brass cylinders with pins, hallmark of master goldsmiths Sené & Detalla, 9.2 x 5.7 x 4 cm (approximately 3.62 x 2.24 x 1.57 in).
Result: €392,780

It took two catalogs to present the fine objects in a family collection assembled since the 19th century. This attracted numerous French and foreign collectors, who were highly active online. 92% of the lots found buyers, making a final total of €2.51 million for this sale. Among the exquisite objects that opened the afternoon, this automaton music box attributed to Frères Rochat was keenly awaited, and roundly exceeded expectations, inspiring a battle between five French, British and Swiss bidders all the way up to €392,780 after a high estimate of €150,000. A study of its musical mechanism linked its 58-tooth comb, spring and pin cylinder with pieces made by John Rich, a British goldsmith active at the turn of the 19th century with whom the Rochat brothers collaborated. Watchmaking was also in the spotlight with the €119,600 fetched by an early 19th-century automaton pocket watch made by Louis Duchêne & Fils in Geneva. Another piece by a goldsmith, an impressive powder horn made in Germany in the early 17th century, made €61,100 after a high estimate of €8,000. Still in its leather case encircled in chased silver and veneered with mother-of-pearl, it features gilt decoration with a besieged city on one side and the House of Habsburg's arms on the other. After a ten-minute bidding battle, the hammer fell on €91,000 for the model of a mid-18th century British frigate trimmed in mahogany with a richly carved and gilded panel. Meanwhile, the fame of an 18th-century Maghreb instrument maker, Muhammad al-Battuti (by whom only about twenty pieces are referenced) finally garnered €175,500 for this fine-sized bronze and brass signed astrolabe of 1728 (dia. 7 in).

Tuesday 20 October 2020 - 14:30 (CEST) - Live
Hôtel des ventes, 164 bis, avenue Charles-de-Gaulle - 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
Aguttes
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