A good antique Cat in-Lidded-Pot automaton, by Roullet & Decamps
R & D catalogue number 197,
French, circa 1910,
Our feline surprise...
When wound and the start/stop rod actuated, this automaton takes you by surprise, with the lid of the pot rising up with a white fluffy cat's head pushing the sprung lid in a turning motion, pausing for a moment, before rising a little more with a turn to reveal full head, then sticking its tongue out, immediately dropping down with the lid returning upon pot base as before, performing the action again and again.
The cat with natural white rabbit's fur, glass eyes and painted and shaped metal tongue popping right out of the mouth, little pricked-up ears and a soft green ribbon bow around neck, all linkaged to the hidden movement within the traditional dumbbell-form pot of lagoon day blue painted papier-mâché, intermediate band and lid edge and knob reliefs with gilt detail, start/stop and winding spindle access to back, finished with swing handle.
size - 8.1/2in. high, 5in. max width - (21.5 x 12.5cm)
See Automata - The Golden Age, C. Bailly, p.292.
Point of Interest -
This automaton first made an appearance in the Roullet & Decamps series catalogue of 1878. Carrying on this model for some years, this example dates from circa 1910. Like most successful automaton makers whose wares were sold to good fee-paying clients, established objects which did well commercially had a number from which the workshops would commence work.
Similar to the movement which was used for the ever popular rabbit in cabbage, the main difference is this has the tongue action rather than the moving hands. They also made a clown whose tongue popped out and whose supposed body was within a coopered barrel.
Unlike the thick aluminium real milk churn model, this piece in papier-mâché is a fragile example of one of Roullet & Decamp's smallest and best loved automatons.