It may be 200 years old, but this beautiful automaton silkworm still runs like clockwork. The jewel-covered “Ethiopian Caterpillar” was made for Chinese aristocracy in the early 19th century and is one of just six or seven in existence.
Made around 1810 by Swiss watchmaker Henri Maillardet, the silkworm uses a hidden clockwork mechanism to crawl and mimics the undulating movement of real-life caterpillars.
Its 7cm-long body is made of gold, decorated with colored enamel and studded with seed pearls, rose diamonds and rubies.
It was titled the “Ethiopian Caterpillar” when Maillardet, in partnership with legendary watchmaker Jaquet Droz, organized an exhibition to show off his menagerie of miniaturised automata in London in 1811.
He created exotic-sounding names to attract the public, hence the invention of the “Ethiopian Caterpillar”, which was accompanied by the “Egyptian Lizard” and the “Siberian Mouse”.
Via Daily Mail.