Antique Bronze Magician Mechanical Magic Desk Standish
Here is a wonderful old antique bronze or brass mechanical standish, in the form of a magician. It measures approx. 8 inches tall, 7 & 1/2 inches wide at the base, and approx. 6 inches deep. It is an authentic antique piece, well over 100 years old, and not a copy or repro of any kind. It is in completely as-found, all original condition, very dusty & dirty, with no repairs or restorations of any kind.~~~ I hardly know how to begin to describe this fantastic piece! It is of very high quality, and rendered with great artistic detail. It depicts a very animated magician, performing his act behind a small folding table on a cobblestone street. His sleeves are rolled up while he thrusts his wand into the air with one hand, and holds a small ball between the thumb & fore finger of his other hand. He is in the process of executing a ball & cup trick, and the table he stands behind is "rigged", as they say, as the central cup conceals a tiny and comical little figure, which is apparently supposed to pop up suddenly and ring, via the workings of a mechanical device and bell which are concealed in the base. (The mechanism is intact, the bell rings and the figure moves up & down, but it may need to be cleaned and adjusted to work smoothly & correctly.) ~~~The Magician is all dressed in 18th century clothing, again rendered in great detail, with tricorn hat, waistcoat, breeches and bow topped shoes. When his pig tail is pushed down, his hat flips up to reveal a well, and on the ground below the table are a trunk, a bugle, and a drum. The trunk opens up for storage, the bugle is actually a removable seal, and the drum top flips up to reveal an ink well, which still has the original porcelain liner in place (the liner has an old hairline crack). There seems to be something small missing on the right front corner of the table, where a tiny hole betrays it's absence. I would guess that it was the other die, but I'm not sure. Besides that, it looks mostly complete, with no cracks or breaks, and awaits a thorough cleaning and restoration. I can find no maker's name, date, or signature on it, but from the construction and feel of the piece, I think that it was probably made in the early 19th century, and certainly no later than the Victorian era. Once spruced up, it promises to reveal itself as a spectacular and rare piece, worthy of the most advanced collection!~~~ If you are a collector of magic memorabilia, small bronzes, or of antique mechanical oddities, then this wonderful piece is sure to please!~~~The only reference that I have been able to find for this fascinating piece is a nearly identical example that sold at Swann Galleries in New York City, on October 25, 2007, as part of the Christian Fechner collection of American and European Magic, Part III, lot # 315.
Sold for $5,300