A Mechanical Hand-Crank Acrobatic Clown c.1895-1910

Origin: French or German
Period: Early 20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1895-1910
Height: 19” (at maximum)
Width: 7.75”
Depth: 3.5”

The charming mechanical toy in the form of acrobatic clown having a painted papier-mache head inset with amber and black glass eyes, wearing a felt jacket with red bow tie and red and white striped trousers to clown boots, mounted on a performance bar with a cog and rack driven mechanism, weight and thumb piece to a painted rectangular wooden base and surviving from the zeniths of the nineteen century and either of French or German origin.

The condition, considering the age and fragility of the toy, is still sound with the mechanism working, the whole piece has not been tampered with or badly restored. The clothes are torn and tired and there is natural wear to the entire composition. He proves very decorative as a table-top element in his own right. The base may be a later replacement.

Roullet et Decamps produced an automaton version in the same period as this with a movement playing a single air and a hand-crank designed version was later used in the 1950s by Arnold in tinplate and was named Jimmy The Acrobat Clown. Other variations included clowns with chairs, drums, or cymbals. It is possible this particular example was scratch built and is unique due to the fairly primitive base.

Just in the most charming condition, a real joyful treat and an early example of its type.