The model is developed by the great inventors of modern automata, the workshop of Jaquet-Droz and Leschot. A cage made by them circa 1785 was sold for CHF 290K including premium by Antiquorum on November 8, 2014.
At that early time all the major elements of the system are already present : the central column through which the execution of the life-like movement of the bird is transmitted, the simulated waterfall in the column, the mechanism hidden in the base, the musical entertainment triggered at defined times or at will. The illusion of the jump of the bird from a perch to another is an ingenious refinement.
On May 14 in Geneva, Sotheby's sells a later cage that is a very good example of the repartition of the work between several craftsmen. It is estimated CHF 400K, lot 176.
The structure is signed by Bautte et Moynier. Since 1791 Jean-François Bautte is a monteur de boîtes (box assembler) working in Geneva for clockmaking and jewelry. The music box operating 93 blades is signed by Charles-Frédéric Nardin whose activity in La Chaux de Fonds is known from 1806 to 1823.
This box offers a choice between three melodies including an extract from Weber's Der Freischütz which gives to this piece an earlier deadline of 1821.
The column is topped by a butterfly flapping its wings. Perches accommodate two jumping birds. This specific design is attributed to Jean-David Maillardet, the younger brother of Henri Maillardet who had been famous for exhibiting in London his menagerie of automata.