This extraordinary 18th century gilded elephant automaton clock sold for £1.6 million at Sotheby’s in London on July 4. Made for the Asian market by the celebrated English clockmaker Peter Torckler, it was previously owned by the Shah of Persia Naser al-Din (1831–96). The Shah bought it after seeing the remarkable collection of performing clocks owned by Ferdinand de Rothschild at Waddesdon Manor.
The automaton springs to life every third hour, playing music, waving its tail and trunk and flapping its ears. It was bought by an Asian collector. The c1780 clock had been on display at Sotheby’s, New Bond St., for the past month where it became a popular attraction.
A pair of gilt bronze mounted Sèvres vases (c1788-1790) was the top lot at Sotheby’s evening sale entitled Treasures, Princely Taste. They realised £1,777,250. The 39 lots in the auction brought in £9,507,800.