French Paper Mache Automaton "Bob and His Learned Piglet" by Vichy

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50" (127 cm.) overall. 13" Piglet. Seated upon the top rung of a ladder-back chair is a paper mache clown with painted clown features and original wig,with glass eyes and hinged jaw,carton torso,legs and hands. The chair is arranged atop a platform stage and the clown balances a ladder on his left leg upon which is balanced,at the very top,a paper mache piglet dressed in fancy clothes,the piglet with hinged ears and a very pleased expression on his painted features. When wound,a very complicated series of movements occur in various synchronized movements: the clown blinks his eyes and opens and closes his mouth,his shoulders move back and forth and then heave,his arms move from side to side as though preparing to catch the pig,and his foot now and again taps in time to the actions. Meanwhile the piglet performs his "learned tricks": he stands upside-down,at first balancing on two feet,then on one foot,then swivels to be directly in front of the clown,occasionally wiggling his ears in delight and kicking his hind legs back and forth in the air,while periodically the ladder tilts dangerously to and fro. Meanwhile,four tunes play. Condition: generally excellent,mechanism and music function perfectly and for extended time. Comments: Vichy,circa 1880,the model appeared in an early catalog of the firm,named "Bob et Son Cochon Savant" (Bob and His Learned Piglet),and was described as being a deposed model by the firm. Value Points: extremely rare,only three other examples are known to exist. Bob and the Piglet have original costumes,as is the mechanism and the music,thus the rarity of the piece is rivaled by its creative and delightful presentation.
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