Automaton Tea Drinker

Musical Ginger Jar Automaton late 19th c.
Papier-mâché, fabric, paint, metal
10.5 x 8″
Kamm Collection 2005.107
Photo: Weschler’s Auction

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The painted jar opens to reveal a Chinese man dressed in a brocade robe, drinking a cup of tea and swiveling his head from side to side. The mechanical movement is activated by winding a key. Although the maker is unknown, this automaton could have been made in France.

“The period 1860 to 1910 is known as “The Golden Age of Automata”. Mechanical coin-operated fortune tellers were introduced to boardwalks in Britain and America. In Paris during this period, many small family based companies of automata makers thrived. From their workshops they exported thousands of clockwork automata and mechanical singing birds around the world. Although now rare and expensive, these French automata attract collectors worldwide. The main French makers were Bontems, Lambert, Phalibois, Renou, Roullet & Decamps, Theroude and Vichy.” — Wikipedia