Extremely Rare French Mechanical "Alligator" by Roullet & Decamps

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34" (86 cm.) Of very sturdy paper mache with painted finish to realistically depict an alligator hide, the figure has hinged jaw, ferociously sculpted rows of teeth, bulging glass eyes, sculpted ribs and hide, and sculpted claws. A mechanism within the alligator creates a series of realistic movements: when wound, the alligator moves forward in a complicated slithering manner allowed by the linen-wrapped jointing at the neck and mid-torso and by multiple jointing of the tail, while the jaw opens and closes in a synchronized manner with blinking eyes. Condition: generally excellent, mechanism functions well. Comments: Roullet & Decamps, circa 1895, the firm created a number of mechanical animals ranging from gentle kittens to squirrels in cozy scenes to more exotic animals such as lizards, and this present example, the alligator. Value Points: perfectly preserved mechanical animal was likely presented as an exhibition model, judging by its size and extreme rarity.
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