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Press Release - October 17, 2018

Rare Charles Bruguier Singing Automaton Bird Box Offered in Heritage Auctions’ Watches & Fine Timepieces Auction

Renowned Swiss watchmaker produced just 27 per year

Charles Bruguier á Geneva Very Fine & Important Gold Singing Automaton Bird Box
DALLAS, Texas (October 17, 2018) — An extremely rare 19th-century bird box is among the most intriguing lots at Heritage Auctions’ Watches & Fine Timepieces Auction Oct. 24 in New York.

The rarity of Charles Bruguier á Geneva Very Fine & Important Gold Singing Automaton Bird Box, No. 24, circa 1850 (estimate: $100,000-150,000) can be traced to the fact that Bruguier produced an average of just 27 such singing bird boxes during his career.

"Charles Bruguier is known for his singular combinations of elite artistic ability and extraordinary mechanical craftsmanship,” Heritage Auctions Watches & Fine Timepieces Director Jim Wolf said. "The artistry and engineering that went into making these boxes, coupled with the fact that so few ever were produced makes them the kind of item that can be the centerpiece of any collection.”

Impressive in both appearance and mechanics, the bird box works with sophisticated motion to the bird wings, body and beak and the bird "song” with realistic trills, chirps and cadences. The 18k gold case, with swirling leaves and flowers on a finely stippled ground, features a gold floral form slide lever to activate the sound and motion. The oval top, over a pierced and engraved bird form grid, is mounted by a hinged back panel with a recess for the winding key; when lifted, it reveals a small "singing” bird, made with real feathers, whose wings, head and beak move during its song, which lasts between 20 and 30 seconds.

The movement is brass and steel fusée and chain – a system of mechanics known to allow the box to play/sing longer and more clearly than any other type. The chain mechanism in boxes like this one include hundreds of delicate moving parts. So rare is this box that there is only one person in the world entrusted with restoration efforts.

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

The Internet’s most popular auction-house website,, has over one million registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of four million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.

Steve Lansdale, Public Relations Specialist

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