A remarkable and very rare antique polar bear bubble-blowing automaton, by Roullet & Decamps
Liquid-mixture and pneumatic-blower action
I'm forever blowing bubbles, bubbles from a polar bear...
When bubble mixture present in chalice and automaton wound by the key and bayonet start/stop rod actuated, the polar bear turns his head to the left as his right hand holding bubble hoop scoops up mixture from the chalice held in left hand and lifts hoop in front of face, pausing for a moment then suddenly blowing to exude a stream of many bubbles which blow around the room. He then quickly turns his head to the left and opens his mouth to clearly reflect on the fun of the action, scooping more liquid for the next of many bubbles blown in repeating sequence again and again.
The bear with the very intricate and clever movement within torso, providing the four main body part movements to left arm, left hand, head and mouth, whilst the bellows on single push-valve provides the strong current of air needed to blow through mouth tube for the bubble formations, with going-barrel drive.
Polar bear of rigid papier-mâché clad in soft white rabbit fur, glass eyes, wonderful painted carved wood teeth with much attention given to the sharpness, matching methods for hands and feet - the claws. Liquid mixture contained in the open chalice of copper and bubble forming hoop of gilt metal wire, clamped within tube for excess mixture run-off. Period burnished copper bucket with swing handle is placed under the chalice to catch any loose mixture drips for the performance's duration.
Bear in standing stance, designed to be viewed facing slight-right for the head-turn to finish slight-left.
Size - 43cm Tall ( 17" )
Point of interest -
Automatons which have great output surprise are always in high demand. Such as the classic smoking automaton we had until summer 2013 by Gustave Vichy (stock #1380) and the very early magician automaton (stock #1459), the most prized examples are measured by the surprise factor. No one can really tell exactly what it does and how it does the performance, until the spring is tightened and the start/stop actuated.
And what a glorious surprise awaits the viewers of this amazing piece whose design skill and realisation is extraordinary. Some people have problems blowing perfect bubbles using those little pots with the hoop included as part of the lid. This has a tiny hoop, a tiny area of target for the hoop to scoop into, and to top it all, there are always perfect bubbles blown every time - by clockwork, not by a human.
When the bubbles are produced, the look on the polar bear's face says it all - a big laugh, a big smile as he celebrates yet another feat of magic.
The wonder of automaton makers who produced goods which articulated complex motion sequences usually have the most complex of movements. Not this one; it is all in the skill of the designer, the pure skill of a genius who must have studied for many weeks how it would be done.
Complete with a full bottle of Glucose-soda mixture and details of how to acquire more should you run out, many an evenings' entertainment will be met with astonishment and fun, coupled with a suitable undertone of appreciation and respect.