Lambert Clown Magician Automaton, ca. 1890
This toy was purchased by my grandfather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I can remember as a young child sitting down and watching this every so many times a year, you know, just only on special occasions.
Well, it's really not a toy. It's really what we call an automaton, and automatons have a great history. They were very, very expensive, and really each one was almost like a museum piece. Fabergé made automatons for the czars. What we have here comes into the late 19th century...
...when these things began to be made-- not mass-produced, but manufactured-- by companies like Lambert, who made this one. Other companies in France in the 1880s, 1890s started making these for the newly wealthy bourgeoisie, the new wealthy middle class to have in their parlors. Something like this in the 1890s probably cost the average person one or two weeks' wages. What adds to the value of this one, it's in amazing condition because the fabric is all original, the original paint on the composition head. But what really makes this a lot of fun is that it is a magician. Let's play it for the audience. It has music, plus a little magic act. (music begins playing) He waves his wand three times... Reveals a watch... Puts it back down... And he's going to... In a minute or so, he'll wave his wand again, and I have a hunch the watch won't be there anymore. One, two, three... And it's a dice.
And as I... There are four things that it changes. It's wonderful, in remarkable condition, and I would say on today's market would bring anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000.
Oh, my God! Really?
It's a real treasure. And thank you so much for bringing it to us.
Oh, my God. I don't believe it. Wow. Unbelievable.
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