From a slew of New Year’s Day auctions came this better-than-average squirrel cage offered by Copake Auction in New York.
During the 19th century, when squirrels were sometimes treated as pets, the cages they were housed in ranged from nondescript to highly ornamental. However, one common feature was an exercise wheel.
This elaborate cage takes on a folk art form through the use of two articulated male figures made of scroll-cut and painted wood. In the same fashion as a whirligig, the figures, each holding a central crank, are put into motion when the wheel turns.
The paint-decorated cover of the wheel, the scalloped base of the platform, and the bentwood top of the main quarters all add to the appeal of this piece. Measuring 11.25 inches high by 12 inches wide by 15.5 inches deep, it sold for $661.25 (with buyer’s premium).