Saturday, 5 August 2017

200-year-old automaton: The jewel-studded clockwork caterpillar

Thought to date back as far as 1820, this mechanical robot was made by Swiss watchmaker Henri Maillardet for sale to aristocratic Chinese buyers. The rare gold, enamel, jewel and pearl-set automaton mimics the undulating caterpillar's crawl with a clockwork powered mechanism which drives a pair of gilt-metal knurled wheels. It was titled 'the Ethiopian caterpillar'

Of Maillardet's caterpillar robots only six are known to exist and five are in prestigious collections in Europe. This example sold for $ 415,000 in 2010.