Monday, March 22, 2010

Discovery during the restoration of an automaton

Check out this video to see the incredible discovery Michael Start made while restoring this antique laughing sailor coin-operated automaton.


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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Satyr Head of Mystery - magical mechancial prop

The Cabaret Mechanical Theatre Blog has been ups to some really great things this month. Yesterday, they posted about this amazing mechanical prop meant for use by a stage magician. It's wonderful prop, though it seems like it may take some practice to get the hang of it.

From the video description:
Made of strong papier mache, gessoed and painted with leather eyelids and fine glass eyes in the tradition of the Parisian automata makers. Designed to produce one or two items from the mouth and top of the head. The final issue is due to awaken in the Spring of 2010, expressions of interest are invited.

Here is the link to the full post on The Mechanical Blog.


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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Realistic dachshund clockwork automaton

Made in Paris around 1900 by Roullet & Decamps, this is a life-sized paper-mâché automaton dog. The clockwork mechanism housed inside the dog's body makes it nod its head and open and shut his mouth -- as if panting -- for about 20 minutes.

Visit AutomatomaniA to see more images of this very realistic dachshund automaton.


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Monday, November 16, 2009

Mechanical Christmas tree stand with four tunes

Made around 1900, this German clockwork Christmas tree stand spins the tree around and plays four tunes.

For more info, visit http://www.automatomania.com.


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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Video of vintage automaton cat restoration

Here is bit of video from the folks at Automatomania showing the inner workings of a antique cat automaton made by the famous makers Roullet and Decamps.

From the YouTube description
This is an automaton of a fur covered papier mache cat by Decamps of Paris Circa 1900. The film shows the restoration at the stage where all the parts have been repaired and the cat is tested prior to re-assembly.

Note the tail curl, it is a realistic action achieved with wooden balls wedged along a tapering spring within the tail, the cord pulls on the last ball only to curl it. This is a fragile part of the cat and is always broken in antique examples I have seen.

The restored cat is now for sale and can be seen at the Automatomania shop online shop.


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Friday, June 19, 2009

Singing bird automata makes for high fashion

Singing bird automata makes for high fashion
To celebrate her 20th anniversary in the business, British designer Lulu Guinness decided to make a singing bird automaton -- within a handbag!

She tapped Adam Wright, a film animatronics maker, to help with the mechanics of the piece. He, in turn, looked to Michael and Maria Start of Automatomania -- experts in the repair and restoration of automata -- for their specialized knowledge and skill.

According to Michael Start, "He spent a few days with us learning about singing birds and then sent us the bird body for Maria to feather in scarlet feathers."

When it was completed they went to an unveiling party at London's Victoria & Albert Museum -- a star studded event with the handbag as a center piece. It's official: automata have become high fashion!

Here is a video about the Singing Handbag.


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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

More info on antique smoking head automaton

disembodied head automaton
Michael Start of AutomatomaniA has been kind enough to supply some additional information about the smoking head automaton we saw a few days ago.

Michael thinks the head dates from circa. 1865, though Maria thinks it may be as early as 1840. Additional photographs and a scan of the 1882 letter may be seen on his news page. The letter is in the last two photos of the sequence.


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Monday, December 01, 2008

Classic automata film: Princely Toys

Here is some very rare film footage of vintage French automata from the collection of Jack Donovan. The film was shot in 1976.

Thanks to Michael and Maria Start of Automatomania for this video.


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Friday, November 28, 2008

Fantastic disembodied smoking head automaton

Here's a short video of a fantastic disembodied head automaton that smokes!

From the video description:
A clockwork head that moves its glass eyes and smokes either a pipe or cigar. The head is made of papier mache and wood. The original wooden box contained envelopes of saltpetre and 'ribbon of bruge' to load the pipe with, also a letter dated 1882 explaining how to work it and confirming its sale to a London coffee shop.

Thanks to Michael and Maria at AutomatoMania for this video.


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