Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Roger Daltrey's automata to be auctioned in Edinburgh

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Media captionRoger Daltrey's automata to be sold at auction

A collection of rare 19th Century French automata owned by the singer and actor Roger Daltrey could fetch more than £50,000 at auction in Edinburgh.

The Who lead singer, 72, and his wife Heather collected the seven "complex mechanical wonders" over several years.

Image copyright Lyon and Turnbull

Some of the figures stand over one metre tall and play music.

The collection will be sold at Lyon and Turnbull's fine furniture and works of art auction on 28 September. They are expected to fetch up to £52,500.

Image copyright Lyon and Turnbull

One musical automaton, "The Mandolin Player", valued at £5,000-7,000, plays his instrument while he rocks and nods his head, blinks his eyes and moves his mouth.

Another, "The Tea Drinker" estimated at £10,000-15,000, raises a cup to her mouth while spinning her parasol.

Image copyright Lyon and Turnbull

One of the oldest, "The Monkey Conjuror" (£3,000-5,000), dating to about 1885, presents tricks with jumping die, all to music.

The most expensive lot, however, is a musical Pierrot figure sitting on a crescent moon, which is expected to make £12,000-18,000.

Image copyright Lyon and Turnbull

The 1890 figure, made by Leopold Lambert, strums a lute, nods, and sticks out his tongue while the Moon blinks and moves its mouth.

Theo Burrell, specialist at Lyon and Turnbull, said: "This is quite an incredible feat of engineering, made by one of the greats, Leopold Lambert.

Image copyright Lyon and Turnbull

"It is as captivating today as it was when it was made, creating the same sense of wonder and enjoyment to those who view it.

"What makes this collection noteworthy is not only the rarity of some of the automata, but their being in good unrestored and original condition.

Image copyright Lyon and Turnbull

"I don't know whether someone who is a big fan of the Who is necessarily a fan of automata, but as items in their own right, above and beyond the provenance, they are incredibly rare and interesting."

The word automaton comes from the Greek "automatos", meaning "acting of itself".

Image caption Roger Daltrey and his wife built up the collection over several years.

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