Antique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by Bontems


 

A antique tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by Bontems,
 
Circa 1890,
 
Going barrel movement,
 
Gilt metal two-tone brilliance...
 
When wound and start/stop slide moved to the right, the bird pops up through foliate chased gilt grille, then proceeds to move bone beak, wings and body from side-to-side to good complex continuous synchronised birdsong.
The bird with streaked feathered plumage in brown, yellow, turquoise and red, lime green and purple iridescent highlights, highly polished lid interior for full bird reflection, in plain polished tortoiseshell case, twinned laurel leaf engraved bird lid border with the bird lid engraved with love birds and rose united beneath leaf swag arch, accentuated with gilt on silvered ground, hidden key compartment to rear.
 
3.3/4in. wide, 2.1/2in. deep, 1.5/16in. high - (9.5 x 6.4 x 3.4cm)
 
Point of interest -
 
Gilt metalwork was one of the many specialties at the Bontems workshops, and although this is neither signed or numbered, one can confidently attribute his name on this piece.
The striking two-tone metal effect seen on the lid which really stands out the detail of the lovebirds to their best is relatively straight-forward to do, but only when working with hands which know what they are doing.  The fine gilt surface is prepared first and polished.  Then a silver plate is painstakingly worked onto the top a wafer thin layer at a time until the gilt is just covered.  The it's a case of polish-rubbing through with the tooling so that the detail is shown in gilt and the ground remains silver.  A superb embellishment to the noir tortoiseshell which surmounts it.
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Antique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by Bontems
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Antique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by BontemsAntique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by BontemsAntique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by BontemsAntique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by BontemsAntique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by BontemsAntique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by BontemsAntique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by BontemsAntique Tortoiseshell singing bird box, most probably by Bontems
 
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