The only surviving privately owned example of a Victorian Lion treadle lock-stitch sewing machine is for sale at Bonhams
Fine Mechanical Music and Scientific Instruments auction at Knightsbridge on Wednesday 21 April.
This dramatic looking machine was made in 1868 for the American market by Kimball and Morton, a Glasgow based manufacturer. In the shape of a noble but friendly looking lion the machine has all its original parts and is so well preserved that it could easily be made to work again. For the past forty years the lion has occupied pride of place in a private house. Only three other machines of this type are known to have survived and they are housed in museums and are either incomplete or restored. It is estimated to sell for between £20,000 30,000.
Also featured in the sale is a stunning gold, enamel and split-seed pearl oiseau chantant (singing bird) box (£80,000 120,000). Made in France in 1795 by Frères Rochat the box is a perfect example of the highly skilled craftsmanship which the creation of these ultimate luxury objects demanded.
Additionally for sale is a musical liqueur set and smokers companion box in the shape of a chalet (£3,500 4,000). Dating from 1911, the box is in near perfect condition and is an astonishingly detailed model of a Swiss chalet complete with inhabitants, and dog. The decanters and glasses are hidden behind the front wall and roof and the box plays a selection of tunes from popular operas including the Toreadors Song from Carmen. It is one of the very last pieces made by Memod Frères.
The sale is one of two a year devoted to fine mechanical music and scientific instruments (the other is on 3 November) and features over 140 lots ranging from pocket globes to musical snuffboxes.