A modern day automaton with a $30,000 high estimate will lead a sale of items collected by video game designer Richard Garriot at the Austin Auction Gallery in Texas on September 21. The collection is comprised of almost 600 lots.
The automaton was designed and built in 2010 by Anatoly Zaya-Ruzo. It features two mechanical dolls (a brother and sister) that play selections from 16th and 17th century English and French composers. The figures are clad in flamboyant 18th century French dress and feature moving eyelids, heads and lips.
In 2007, a pair of blackamoor musicians by Jean Roullet, the great 19th century French maker, sold for $450,000 - a record price for automata.
Garriot is an eccentric character and a noted collector of automata. Famously he was the second person in history to make a self-funded trip into space in 2008.
Other items include a full-size fibreglass reproduction of a Wells Fargo overland stagecoach with an estimate of $20,000, and a selection of vintage cars including a 1911 "Tin Lizzie" Model T Ford that comes to auction with an identical valuation.
Circa 1911 Model T Fords have performed well at auction previously. In 2010, a Torpedo Runabout model sold at RM Auctions for $30,000.
Garriot commented on the auction: "I collect and I look at these demonstration toys and other electromechanical items to inspire the work I do. As a collector, these are personally important to me."