Tuesday 21 February 2023

Lot 107

Robert Race, b. 1943, Worm Time, a hand-operated automaton, driftwood, metal mesh...

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Lot 107

Robert Race, b. 1943, Worm Time, a hand-operated automaton, driftwood, metal mesh...

Price Realised: £494

Estimate: £150 - £250

Price realised is hammer price plus fees (30% Buyers Premium inclusive of VAT).

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Lot 107


Robert Race, b. 1943, Worm Time, a hand-operated automaton, driftwood, metal mesh (rusty), wire, cotton, stone, signed and dated 1996, approx. 28.8cm high, 34cm wide, 6.1cm deep; together with six other pieces by the same artist, to include: Flying Owl Robert Race, driftwood, feathers, cotton, stone, with wall mount, approx. 17.5cm excluding feathers, 170cm high max; and Blackbird and Wasp, wood, wire, feathers, signed and dated 1996, approx. 19.5cm high, 22cm wide, 2.5cm wide; and four others (7)

Sir Nicholas Goodison noted:

Worm Time: The bird feeds a rusty wire worm to her young on the metal mesh nest. She dips towards the chick who opens his mouth wide in hopes of a juicy meal. This is a typical work of Robert Race, with its imaginative use of pieces of driftwood (his favourite collection ground is Chesil Bank) and its simplicity of movement. Pressing the lever raises the dowel supporting the chicks head, turning it sideways to receive the worm as a pin follows a slanted groove at the bottom of the sleeve of the neck. Cotton attached to the back of the chicks upper beak tautens as the head is raised and opens the beak wide. At the same time the lever relaxes the cotton attached at one end to the mother and at the other to the stone weight, so that the mother dips her head with the worm towards the chick. The stone weight restores the actors to the start when the lever is released. The name Worm Time arose in conversation with Race.

Flying Owl: The owl flies downwards (only downwards), pulling the stone weight upwards. His wigs whirr round in a frenzy of flight. When he reaches the stone at the bottom, he can be pulled up again, by pulling the stone downwards, to the pulley wheel in order to start again.

Blackbird and Wasp: The blackbird to lunges with open beak as the wasp flies within eating distance when the lever is pressed down, but (as is usual with automata of this type) the bird doesnt catch the wasp and can have another go.


Flying Owl: Purchased, Robert Race, Robert Race, exhibition Thats the way to do it: Moving toys and automata by Robert Race, Quaker Gallery 21 November to 10 December 1994, December 1994.

Worm Time: Purchased, Robert Race, October 1996.

Blackbird and Wasp: Robert Race, October 1996. Exhibited, A Collectors Collection, Strawberry Hill, June-November 2014.

Note: Robert Race, b.1943, exhibits his moving toys, automata, and kinetic sculpture in Britain and internationally.He is a member and past Chairman of the British Toymakers Guild. His work often incorporates a wide range of natural, re-used, and recycled material to make objects which move in simple but interesting ways.

Roseberys do not guarantee the working order of any automata or toy.

Buyer's Premium

The buyer shall pay the hammer price together with a premium thereon of 26% up to £20,000 (31.2% inclusive of VAT), 25% from £20,001 - £500,000 (30% inclusive of VAT), 20% from £500,001 thereafter (24% inclusive of VAT). The premium price is subject to VAT at the standard rate.

VAT is not charged on the hammer price unless it is stated that there is 'VAT applicable on the hammer price at the end of the description. Buyer's premium is subject to VAT.

Qualifying living artists and the descendants of artists deceased within the last 70 years are entitled to receive a re-sale royalty each time their work is bought through an auction house or art market professional.

It applies to lots with hammer value over £1,000 as follows:
0 to £50,000 - 4%
£50,000.01 to £200,000 - 3%
£200,000.01 to £350,000 - 1%
£350,000.01 to £500,000 - 0.5%
Exceeding £500,000 - 0.25%
ARR is capped at £12,500

Please note ARR is calculated in euros. Auctioneers will apply current exchange rates.

Export of goods

Buyers intending to export goods should ascertain whether an export licence is required before bidding. Export licences are issued by Arts Council England and application forms can be obtained from its Export Licensing Unit. Details can be found on the ACE website www.artscouncil.org.uk or by phoning ACE on 020 7973 5188. The need for import licences varies from country to country and you should acquaint yourself with all relevant local requirements and provisions before bidding. The refusal of any such licences shall not permit the cancelling of any sale nor allow any delay in making full payment for the lot.

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