Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The sale ended on the evening of December 28 when bidding had reached £16,000 (plus 18% buyer's premium).

A fabulous reminder of French engineering in the 19th century, the design features an orchestra of nine monkeys performing in a Georgian-style music room.

A total of 23 separate moving parts and a selection of tunes are controlled by complicated mechanism involving bellows, pipes and wires concealed with a two-part 5ft 10in (1.8m) rosewood cabinet.

It had no maker's name but similar pieces by Alexandre Theroude were shown at international exhibitions in the third quarter of the 19th century.

It had been acquired by the vendor for £10,000 as part of the Roy Mickleburgh collection in nearby Bristol Auction Rooms in June 2003 and had since been partly restored.

Auctioneer Evan McPherson said: "It is very rare to see such a large example, and rarer still to find one in England. It deserves to be in a museum."