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Carved in Marmo Giallo Sienna marble, the 20in (51cm) models were estimated at £1000-1500 and sold to a private London buyer at £7400.

Getting legless

A very different eye-catcher at the October 15-18 auction was a1920s French wood and plaster advertising automaton.

It was designed by Gustave Vichy (1839-1904), one of the great names in French automata makers, and produced by the firm Vichy-Triboulet. After Vichy’s death in 1904 his widow had sold the business to his foreman Auguste Triboulet.

Lacking his outer case, the toper had condition problems: he was legless and had spilled his innards. However, the legs could be reattached and much of the wire and lever mechanism remained.

The necessary restoration kept the estimate down to £200-300 but bidders were up to the challenge – the automaton went at £3300 to a Californian enthusiast who intends to restore it himself.