Estimate 16,000 - 20,000 €
Price Realised 21,900 €
a lot of the last auction!
Clockmaker Blaise Bontems (1814-1893) was a noted Parisian specialist in the manufacture of automaton singing birds and the first of a dynasty of automaton manufacturers, which included his son Charles Jules and his grandson Lucien. A Bontems cousin, Alfred, founded his own firm. The era ended when Lucien Bontems died in 1956 and the firm was then purchased by Reuge of St. Croix in Switzerland.
The masterpieces by Bontems were celebrated for the sweet authenticity of the bird song and of course for the excellent craftsmanship of the mechanics. The Bontems family often showed their superb creations at international exhibitions and were regularly awarded prizes. In 1862 the company had many international customers and 90% of their products would be sold outside France. Bontems won 52 medals and many patents – among the medals was one awarded by Napoleon III and one presented by Leopold II of Belgium.
For greater detail on the house Bontems, see "Flights of Fancy - Mechanical Singing Birds" by Sharon and Christian Bailly, pp. 305-347, which also has several illustrations of their work.