|An extra-ordinarily rare and fine SIGNED early nineteenth century French AUTOMATON MAGICIAN clock by the noted maker J-F HOUDIN. The mercury/fire gilt ormolu case has elaborate corner mounts that depict birds with outstretched wings amongst scrolling foliage, a decorative bezel, elaborate moldings while fine mythical dragon mounts flank the mask of a wizard below. Surmonting the clock is an automaton of an oriental magician standing behind a fringed rug draped table decorated with stylized six pointed stars. The whole stands on a carved velvet covered, musical gilt-wood base decorated with stars, dice and crescent moons.
The eight-day movement strikes the hours and halves on a bell and regulates the time by means of a silk suspended pendulum. As the warning for the hour strike activates, a lever sets. As the hour is reached the bell strikes the hour and the lever drops activating the automaton MAGICIAN and his MAGIC.
The gilt bronze engine turned dial is signed Houdin Paris and has blued steel Breguet moon hands and Roman numerals for the hours.
At each hour for about a twelve hour cycle the clock strikes the time and then activates the automata. The magician nods his head and alternately raises his arms and makes different items, such as dice, balls or cones, either magically shift from under one cup to the other or disappear altogether.
The complicated and beautifully engineered top automation movement is housed under the black table top and behind the removable carpet. Once the two screws are removed the carpet is slid forward to reveal the automaton movement. It has a large spring barrel, is regulated by a particularly large governor powered by endless screw, is wound from the rear and is signed on the back plate by the maker.