Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces...

Hong Kong, Dec 05, 2021

LOT 97

Large cage with one singing bird; gilded metal, gilded wood, tissue and feathers

HKD 50,000 - 70,000

EUR 5,700 - 7,900 / CHF 6,000 - 8,300 / USD 6,500 - 9,000

Gilded metal, gilded wood, tissue and feathers, key-winding, large cage with one singing bird (with a clear and strong voice); start / stop lever under the object.
The gilt wood base with cast foliage decoration in the “Louis XVI”-style (on four modern feet).

Grading System
Grade: AAA


Case: 3-8


Slightly scratched

Movement: 3*


Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Brand Unsigned, Paris

Year Late-19th century or early-20th century

Dimensions 540 x 257 mm. (approx.) without handle


Bontems, Blaise (1814-1893)
Bontems, the foremost specialist in singing birds, was the founder of a dynasty of singing bird makers, which included his son Charles-Jules (b. 1848) and his grandson Lucien (b. 1881).
The Bontems account books for the year 1879 mention two “bronze birds”, feathered to resemble a tanager - tangara rouge -, which were sold to clients in Paris and Moscow.
In the commercial directories of the day, Bontems appeared under two headings: “Clockmaker” and “naturalist”, at the time using stuffed birds rather than the feather-covered metals shells that he adopted later.
· Bailly, Christian, & Bailly-Kerman, Sharon, Flights of Fancy, Mechanical Singing Birds, Geneva, Antiquorum Editions, 2001 (316 pp. + CD Rom), p. 300-339.