Very rare antique sand automata depicting a pair of trapeze artists, styled in the manner of Monsieur Jules Leotard - famed for not only being an amazing trapeze artist, but also for his tight fitting attire, which came to be named after him. In this toy, a pair of acrobats perform a varying routine for a few minutes, against a theatrical backdrop, by way of a mechanism comprising a hopper filled with sand, and a mill wheel which rotates the figures (the details can be seen in the photos). The box is rotated twice to fill the hopper with sand, then placed on a table to watch the routine in awe. According to the newspaper used inside the automata, this piece dates from late 1867, it is in great condition, although the back panel appears to have been replaced at some point for a perspex alternative, allowing the mechanism to be viewed. Signs of age and use, but still fully operational.
Monsieur Leotard inspired the 1867 musical hall song 'The Flying Trapeze', which was later changed to 'The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze'. The lyrics were written by British singer George Leybourne, with music by Gaston Lye and arrangement by Alfred Lee. The toy was most likely manufactured by WH Cremer of 27 New Bond St, London, as although it does not have the labels (as seen on the Leotard Sand Automata), the piece looks the same in all other respects. WH Cremer was reportedly suppliers to the Royal Family, Courts of Prussia, France & Austria.
Note, we have another Leotard sand automata for sale (see final photo) - this is sold seperately, and can be found in our other listing. Price is for the Acrobatic Sand automata only.
Measures: 9.75" (25cm) tall x 8" (20cm) wide x 3.75" (9.5cm deep)
Available to view at our showroom in Chicklade, Wiltshire - by appointment only
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