Lot 19 (Silver & Objects of Vertu, 30th October 2020)
An unusual George III sterling silver telescopic mechanical cabinet / automaton key, London 1797 by George Cowles
the tubular section, with two extending section, terminating with a tooled cute brass section. The main section engraved “Bot at Weeks’s Museum, Tichborne St”. Fully and part-marked throughout.
Length (fully extended) – 48 cm / 18.8 inches
Weight – 58 grams / 1.86 ozt
Thomas Weeks (1743-1834), established his celebrated Museum of Mechanical Curiosities at nos. 3 & 4 Tichborne Street, in the Haymarket London, in 1797. The Museum became a place of amusement for sophisticated Londoners, not only was it a private house but also a shop where Weeks displayed a variety of mechanical toys, elaborate temples and contrivances ranging from self-playing organs to mechanical spiders.
It is possible that this key relates to the barrel organs or other horological components that once formed part of the secretaire cabinets associated with the Weeks Museum (C. Gilbert, Some Weeks Cabinets Reconsidered, Connoisseur, May 1971), although over twenty examples are thought to be extant only Lord Barnard’s has retained the musical components to the base section.
Sold for £812
Includes Buyer's Premium