Saturday, August 23, 2008

Unique Gothic Automaton Clock Depicting a Mystic

Gothic Automaton Clock Depicting a Mystic by Theroude
Here s a very interesting and unusual vintage automaton, probably made by the famous French maker Theroude. Quite a fascinating piece. This and many other fine automata are going to auction today, August 23rd, 2008.

An excerpt from the auction description:
"Rare Gothic Automaton Clock Depicting a Mystic, probably by Theroude, c. 1850, the figure with carved and painted wood head, glass eyes, articulated jaw, brass bedplate carrying multiple movements from ten levers, including lateral and vertical motions of the head and arms, the right arm also articulated at the elbow and wrist, carved wood legs articulated at the hips, knees and ankles, four-gear train with rack-and-pinion concealed in the rocks behind him, in fantastical papier-mache grotto landscape with steps to natural arch, urn and pitcher beside animated glass-twist waterfall, ledge with crucifix and books, roots, foliage and cavernous ceiling supported by twisted branches, on oval ebonized base with beaded brass lips and 3 1/2-inch Roman enamel dial with Breguet hands, the brass going-barrel movement driving removable pinned wood barrel, fourteen cams, pulley and gong with two hammers, independent large four-air cylinder movement no. 9381, and eight-day clock with platform escapement and countwheel, strike on bell, stamped Boviller, Paris, ht. 32 1/2 inches."

Here is the complete listing with more information and additional photographs of the Gothic Automaton Clock Depicting a Mystic.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Roullet et Decamps Automaton has Odd Surprise

Roullet et Decamps Automaton has Odd Surprise
This finely made automaton by famed Parisian makers Roullet et Decamps features a young woman with a rather odd surprise hidden in her basket.

Check the additional images on the eBay listing for this Roullet et Decamps Jumeau Automaton to see what I mean.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

French Quarter-Chiming Wizard Automaton Clock

French Quarter-Chiming Wizard Automaton Clock
Here is another stunning piece going to auction on August 23rd, 2008.

From the eBay listing by Skinner Auctioneers:
"Rare French Quarter-Chiming Table Clock with Wizard Automaton, c. 1870, the black marble case with bronze figure of a boy dressed as a wizard, his right arm articulated at the shoulder for lateral and vertical movements, standing before a nest of four bells, which he strikes with a hammer on the quarter hours to play a tune, with six-inch dia. silvered brass dial with Roman numerals and pierced latticework, gilt bezel with beveled glass, brass ball feet and eight-day, spring-powered, three-train movement chiming quarters and striking the hours on a gong, ht. 25 in."

Here is full eBay listing for this French Quarter-Chiming Wizard Automaton Clock.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Henry Phalibois Automaton of a Laughing Clown

Henry Phalibois Automaton of a Laughing Clown
This Laughing Clown automaton by Phalibois is going to auction on August 23rd, 2008 by Skinner Auctioneers.

The clown's mechanism contains a going-barrel movement with four boxwood cams and single-air cylinder movement that cause the figure to look from side to side, wink his eyes, slap his sides with his his hands, and shrugging his shoulders rapidly, so that his whole body seems to be shaking with laughter.

Here is the full eBay listing for the Henry Phalibois Automaton of a Laughing Clown.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Life-Size Laughing Sailor Automaton from 'Sleuth'

Life-Size Laughing Sailor Automaton
I posted yesterday about a magician automaton that was in the 1972 film 'Sleuth'. This life-size laughing sailor was also in the film and virtually played a character itself. It was either created or adapted specially for the film.

From the eBay listing:
Life-Size Laughing Sailor Automaton from the Film "Sleuth", sculpted foam-rubber features and hands, blue glass eyes, articulated eyelids and lower jaw, seated on capstan head, with electric motors and remote controls causing the sailor to wink, blink, move his head, clap his hands and howl with laughter, in white trousers, striped jersey, navy-blue felt jacket and white hat, ht. 68 inches.

Read the full description and see another photograph of the Laughing Sailor Automaton.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Drinking Bear Automaton by Roullet et Decamps

The estimates valued this drinking bear automaton between $600 and $800 dollars. In ended up selling at auction for $2233!

It is a clever mechanism, indeed. The bear pours a drink with real liquid. When he raises his arm to drink, the liquid drains down a hidden tube and refills the decanter for his next drink.

Learn more about the makers, Roullet et Decamp, in Christian Bailly's book: Automata: The Golden Age 1848-1914.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vichy Gymnast Automaton Uses Free Object

Of all of the automata I have seen working in person to date, I would have to say that this acrobat by Vichy is among the most impressive. The engineering sophistication is astounding.

From the eBay listing:
Rare Coin-Operated Vichy Automaton Gymnast with Two Chairs, with papier-mache head, brown glass eyes, smiling mouth with painted teeth, arched brows and theatrical make-up, standing between two white-painted chairs on paneled oak base with coin-slot, massive going-barrel motor driving five cams and four-air cartel cylinder movement, in the original spangled gold satin theatrical costume decorated with silver sequins and glass beads, ht. 35 1/2 in....

The sequence begins with the acrobat standing, poised, between the two chairs. At the drop of the coin, he raises the chair in his right hand waist-high, flexing his wrist three times so that hand and chair outstretched. He then lowers the chair to the ground and, with his hand still grasping the top rail for support raises his body into a handstand position, tilting the chair so that only its back two legs are resting on the stage. When his body is at ninety-degrees from the base, he raises the chair into the air, once again flexing from the right wrist so that the chair is horizontal and his entire weight rests in his left hand while simultaneously raising his head as if to survey the crowd, until body and chair are held in perfect alignment, before gracefully lowering himself back to a standing position. As a finale, he stretches his hand to release the chair, raising his free arm in the air, and bowing his head for applause.

It is a huge challenge to make an automaton interact with a free object. This is an amazing example both for its complexity, the size of the object, and the leverage it must exert on the figure. This is Vichy at their best.

The Vichy Gymnast Automaton is on eBay and will be part of the live auction held by Skinner Auctioneers on October 28th, 2007.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Fine Diamond-Set Gold and Enamel Music Box

This is another item going auction on Sunday at Skinner Auctioneer's upcoming Science and Technology auction on October 28th, 2007.

This piece is described as a Fine Diamond-set Gold and Enamel Carillon Music Box and is attributed to maker John rich. Stunning.

From the auction catalogue:
...movement and case marked No. 1, signed and dated on the mainspring by Benson & Ibell, August 1796, playing two tunes on a nest of five bells with finely-chased and engraved gilt-brass skeleton movement, chain-drive fusee wound from the top and eight-step change-repeat cam lever-operated from the right-hand side, in gold an deep blue guilloche enamel case with hinged base and lid compartments, the lid with central sunburst medallion of rose-cut collet and bead-set diamonds with emanating rays and diamonds in quartre-lune formation at the corners...
Source: Skinner Illustrated Cataloge #2383, pp. 80-81.

Learn more about this and other amazing automata going to auction from Skinner's web site where you can download PDF sections of the current catalogue.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Singing Bird Box by Bruguier


As part of The Automata / Automaton Blog's coverage of the automata going to auction on October 28th, in Bolton, Massachusetts, USA here is the first of several videos featuring select items.

From the Auction Catalogue:
Fine Tortoiseshell Singing Bird Box by Bruguier, No. 600, with fusee movement, stack of four song cams operating in sequence....bird with iridescent plumage of dark and light green, red, and bright blue, articulated head, bone beak, wings, perch, and tail, in tortoiseshell case with hinged key compartment, floriate-pierced grill and foliate-chased original diced maroon leather-covered traveling case.
- Skinner Illustrated Catalogue #2383

This piece is part of Skinner Auctioneer's upcoming Science and Technology Auction.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Roullet & Decamps Cambodian Dancer

One of only two known examples, this Cambodian Dancer was never offered for sale to the public by its makers, the famed Roullet et Decamps of Paris.

This beautifully sculpted automaton is most likely the handiwork of Gaston Decamps -- a gifted artist and student of sculpture.

The dancer performs by swaying from side to side, tilting her head, rotating her arms at the elbows, and turning her hands at the wrist.

Every inch of this 40 inch tall piece is lavishly adorned: gold silk brocade, sequins, beads, anklets, bracelets, and an elaborate headdress. This piece is a marvel of artistry on many levels.

This extremely rare automaton will be part of the auction on October 28th, 2007 held by Skinner Auctioneers.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rare Hand-Cranked Barrel Piano Automaton

Standing at over three feet high, this beautiful and unusual automaton was made and signed by a piano manufacturer George Hicks of London.

The piece has many nice features including an enclosed barrel piano, a double-leaf folding lid and a box comprised of boxwood, rosewood, and ebony.

I was drawn to the fine woodwork, the high backed proscenium which acts as a sound aperture, brass S-form crank, and the delightful animated scene. The presence of a Royal Coat of Arms on the back panel may mean this was a special commission of some sort.

There are four moving figures derived from traditional Black Forest automata: King Gambrinus drinking, an ape in jester costume playing guitar, a Roman soldier, and an Eastern arms collector. All four figures are animated by the barrel which operates a total of ten levers.

This piece will be going to auction on October 28th, 2007. Visit Skinner Auctioneers' website for more information on the upcoming Science and Technology auction that will include this and many, many other automata and mechanical music items.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Chinese Magician Automaton - Auction

This is one of the many automata that will be auctioned by Skinner Auctioneers in Bolton, Massachusetts on October 28th, 2007.

Nick Hawkins -- Skinner's resident music box/scientific instrument/automata expert -- was kind enough to give me a live demonstration of this piece.

It is quite large and the sequence surprisingly long. Overall, one of the most remarkable pieces I have ever seen.

Visit Skinner's site to learn more about the upcoming Science & Technology Auction and the preview dates.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Chinese Magician Automaton - Another Photo

Here's a shot of the final moments of the Chinese Magician automaton's act.

A similar automaton can be seen the book Les Automates (1968, French), though the book shows a turbaned illusionist with a white beard. The book is out-of-print and pricey, but here is a link to Les Automates.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chinese Magician Automata to be Auctioned

There is another Skinner auction coming up on May, 25th of 2007. Here is a picture of spectacular magic-themed automaton that will be included in the auction.

I'll be in contact with Skinner's expert on automata and scientific instruments. Stay tuned for more photographs of this piece along with a description of the act it performs.

More information will also be available at Skinner's site soon also.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Science & Technology Auction, March 24th

I have posted a few times about the automata to be auctioned off by Skinner Auctioneers. The auction is this Saturday, March 24th.

Here is a round-up of my previous posts on this auction showing many of the automata that will be available.

There will also be many scientific instruments and orreries.

The auction details:
Preview Dates/Times: March 24, 2007, 8-9am
Auction Date/Time: March 24, 2007, 10am
Address: 63 Park Plaza Boston, MA
Location: Auction #2355

To view the items online or download the catalog, visit Skinner's Science and Technology section

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