Los Angeles – International auctioneers, Bonhams, is pleased to announce a stellar result for the Carousel and Circus Memorabilia and Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata auction on December 4 in Los Angeles. The lively holiday sale featured property from the Collection of Helene Sutter, Southern California.

The highly anticipated winter auction featured approximately 100 lots of amusement memorabilia and mechanical musical instruments. Works of note included whimsical slot machines, carved animals, horses and other quadrupeds dating from the turn of the last century as well as an important private collection of more than 20 French automatons from the late 19th/early 20th century.

Leading the holiday carousel was a handsomely carved and painted carousel Hippocamp by Daniel Carl Muller, circa 1905. Often called a sea-horse, the fanciful creature is found throughout Phoenician, Greek and Etruscan mythology depicted as a horse in its forepart with a coiling fish-like hindquarter. Rare to auction, the exotic creature brought $50,000 (pre-sale estimate $35,000-45,000).

Brooke Sivo, Vice President and Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts said of the animal, "Bonhams was pleased to offer Muller's Hippocamp during this festive holiday sale. Rarely seen at public auction, this animal is highly collectible and garnered widespread interest from across the US and abroad."

A carved and paint decorated carousel horse (pre-sale estimate $10,000-15,000, sold for $16,250) and a carved wood carousel tiger, both by Muller, from the early 20th century were also prominently featured within the winter auction. This tiger is currently one of only five known in existence (pre-sale estimate $10,000-15,000, sold for $31,250).

Many a child's imagination has been stirred by whimsical and imaginative carousel figures and the vibrant merry-go-round music played as the animals circle and gallop. Bonhams was pleased to bring this enchantment to life for collectors of all ages.

Additional items of note from the holiday sale included a carved and paint decorated carousel tiger by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, circa 1900-1910 (pre-sale estimate $10,000-20,000, sold for $36,250); a stunning carousel giraffe by Herschell Spillman, early 20th century (pre-sale estimate $10,000-15,000, sold for $20,000); a carved and paint decorated carousel rose horse also by Herschell Spillman, early 20th century (pre-sale estimate $7,000-9,000, sold for $15,000) and a double eagle stander carousel horse by Gustav Dentzel, early 20th century (pre-sale estimate $12,000-18,000, sold for $12,500).

Important works from private collection of early and rare French automatons included a gymnastic circus performer by Gustave Vichy (pre-sale estimate $2,500-3,500, sold for $23,750); a minstrel banjo player, late 19th century (pre-sale estimate $9,000-12,000, sold for $21,250); a clown with fan and magic box (pre-sale estimate $7,000-9,000, sold for $15,000) and a child puppeteer by Renou with the head by Jumeau, circa 1900 (pre-sale estimate $5,000-7,000, sold for $11,250), among others.

Highlights from the Collection of Helene Sutter included a whimsical slot machine modeled after a showgirl by Ace Novelty Co., 20th century (pre-sale estimate $800-1,200, sold for $10,625); a cherry wood interchangeable 15" disk music box by Regina, late 19th century (pre-sale estimate $6,000-8,000, sold for $7,750) and a "Sun Chief" slot machine by Jenning's, early 20th century (pre-sale estimate $600-800, sold for $3,000).


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

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