This is working mechanical singing birds cage or automaton by famous French automaton maker Bontems. It was known for very realistic sound, and this piece is a perfect example of their skill. Both birds move and sing clearly and beautifully. Their little heads turn and their tails raise and lower.
The cage is brass and features nice ornamentation at the base, intermittent twisted bars and a decorated ring about 2/3s the way up to cage. The bottom of the cage has a velvet lining and vine foliage winding up the perch. Everything is original.
The automaton has two singing birds and is larger than modern reproductions. It is wound up to induce action. As pictured, there are three settings: off, constant and intermittent. Marked on the bottom Made in France, 5617895.
Great functioning condition. In constant position birds sing longer than in intermittent. Sound of birds is wonderful: clear and bright like real birds in the forest. Some wear on brass, commensurate with age.
France, ca 1900
Size: h. 20", diam. 11"