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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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Details of arrow-shooting boy karakuri mechanism

This video (in Japanese) explores the right arm mechanism for the famous arrow-shooting boy karakuri. This is a sophisticated automaton that can pick up arrows, put them on a bow string, pull the bow, and fire it at a target. There are additional motions to make the figure come to life. The animation shows the three cams that control the arm's three axes of motion.


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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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Friday, November 06, 2009

Two Maillardet Automaton drawings on eBay

Two Maillardet Automaton drawings on eBay
I was recently contacted by a woman who found two drawings while going through her late mother's photos and keepsakes. As it turns out, they were penned by none other than Maillardet's Automaton, now at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. She has been in contact with a number of experts who have confirmed these drawings were done by the Automaton.

Here's the eBay listing with the complete story behind the two Maillardet Automaton Drawings.


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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Video of German-made miniature singing bird box

Here is a nice looking miniature singing bird box captured on video. The box measures 4 1/8 inches long by 2 5/8 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches tall.

From the eBay Listing:
The bird comes out and twirls while flapping his wings and opening/ closing his beak. When we got it to work, there was a faint tweeting noise, but I think it needs a little adjusting to work perfectly.

When you take out the drawer, the bottom says Metall [sic], and there is a mark that looks like an EB in an oval. We looked inside the top and the upper right corner says Made in Germany, and there is a little bird on top of some hills with a K on the left and and G on the right. There is also a 5 on the back of the drawer and the back of the inside near the top.

Here is a link to this German-made miniature singing bird box.


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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Authoratative web site on singing bird automata

schematic of a singing bird mechanism
Falk Keuten of the Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik blog informs me that www.alte-spieluhren.de -- run by from Detlef Knick of Berlin, Germany -- is the most comprehensive site on the web on topic of singing bird automata. The site is in German only, but has many wonderful photos and diagrams. Shown here is a schematic of a singing bird mechanism. If you can read German, I am envious!

Visit the Singvogel-Automaten page for more on singing bird automata.


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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Antique alarm clock with automatic candle snuffer

Carriage clock with automatic candle snuffer
Here's a really nifty gadget clock dating between 1840 and 1875.

From the eBay listing item description
The rear left corner of the clock has a candle tube, and the front has a cantilevered arm that is activated by a time setting on the clock. Upon reaching the desired time setting, the arm lowers and the cup on it’s end snuffs out the candle.There is also a wake-up alarm setting. So we here have a clock that tells the owner when to go to sleep, and when to wake up!

Here's the link for more info on this Carriage clock with alarm and automatic candle snuffer


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Friday, May 29, 2009

The inner workings of a German singing bird box

Here is a great video giving us the rare opportunity to see the inner workings of a miniature singing mechanical bird. This piece was restored in the clock and automata shop of Ray Bates who specializes in the professional restoration of antique clocks, marine chronometers, and automata.

Learn more about Ray Bates at The British Clockmaker site.


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Gorgeous automaton chronograph pocket watch

Take a look the video showing all the functions of this magnificent pocket watch. Brass case, skeleton back, and animated bell-ringing figures. I am in love.

Details of this Pocket Watch
Movement: Swiss made 1/4 repeater and chronograph movement
Case Material: Brass case
Dial: Brass & Enamel
Size: 58mm round excluding the crown.
Condition: Overall in vintage condition and time keeping time, repeating function working correct.

One of many detailed photographs, this one showing the mechanism in back...
Gorgeous automaton chronograph pocket watch
Here is the full eBay listing with a number of outstanding detail photographs of Brass cased automaton chronograph pocket watch


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Monday, December 08, 2008

Antique French swimming automaton toy

Antique French swimming automaton toy
Here is a very interesting antique swimming doll toy. I have never seen of these before. I would love to see it swim!

From the listing description
Late 19th century, painted wood, metal and porcelain, with red cotton swimsuit, in its original box, the figure, 9'' H x 8'' W x 2'' D, est:$800/1200. Provenance: With Theriaults, Annapolis, MD

Here is a link to the eBay listing for this Antique French swimming automaton toy.


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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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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

L'Homme Serpent automaton by Michel Bertrand

L'Homme Serpent automaton by Michel Bertrand
Inspired by a Vichy model, this acrobat automaton was created by Michel Bertrand of Switzerland in 1990. Bertrand used many original Vichy/Triboulet parts including the sculpted head, the ingenious torso mechanism, and a six-tune musical movement.

From the auction listing description:
He lies on his stomach upon the table which swivels as he makes a scissor movement with his legs while nodding his head. He then raises his legs. The table swivels again. He raises his head, lifts his stomach off the table and arches his back in an amazing contortionist manner, with his legs raised high. He repeats the scissor movement before lowering himself back onto the table and scissoring his legs once more in the horizontal position.

An amazing piece with a strong and prestigious lineage.

Here is the full auction listing for The Serpent Man, L'Homme Serpent automaton.


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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Automatic Accordion - Hohner Magic Organa

Automatic Accordion - Hohner Magic Organa
Check out this German-made automatic accordion by Hohner.

A spring-wound mechanism inside the instrument moves a paper roll over tubes connected to the accordion's 44 notes. A foot pump bellows connected via a hose to the accordion provides the air needed to for the instrument to sound its notes.

It's bit like a player-piano/organ strapped to your chest. I had no idea such things existed. Amazing. This one comes with 7 different programmed paper rolls.

Here is the eBay listing with more photographs of the automatic accordion called the Hohner Magic Organa


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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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Friday, May 16, 2008

Intriguing 19th Century Automaton Pocket Watch

19th Century Quarter Hour Automaton Pocket WatchWith an estimated value between $4,000.00 - $6,000.00 USD, this tasteful pocket watch is described as a mid 19th Century quarter-hour automaton repeater pocket watch with male and female bell ringer figures. The listing says that the watch is probably Swiss-made and that it comes with the attached winding key.

If it is Swiss, I am a little confused by the Chinese or Japanese characters on the back side of the key (see second image on eBay). Intriguing.

The watch is being sold on eBay on May 20th, 2008. Here is the listing for the 19th Century Quarter Hour Automaton Pocket Watch.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

German Musical Clown and Dog Act Automaton

Clown and Dog Act AutomatonHere is a German-made automaton currently available on eBay.

As you turn the hand-crank the music plays and the poodles climb over the top of the ladder. The clown moves his head back and forth and moves his arm back and forth with the wand. The seller says the piece features glass eyes, is from the 1880s, and is in good working order.

Here is the eBay listing with additional photographs of the Musical Clown and Dog Act Automaton

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chinese Magician Automaton by Mueller circa 1895

Chinese Magician Automaton by Mueller Here is a very nice looking piece going to auction today -- May 11th, 2008.

I am not sure what trick the magician performs, but the piece looks to be in fantastic shape. The seller writes that this is an automaton by Adolphe Mueller of Germany from circa 1895. It is in working condition. The piece stands 80cm high.

Given the cone in the magician's hand, I would assume that an item on the the table either disappears or is transformed into another item altogether.

I am impressed with the clothing and fabrics on this piece. This must have been in a a carefully maintained collection.

Here is the eBay listing for the Chinese Magician Automaton by Mueller

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Vichy Automaton of a Drunkard on Park Bench

Here is a short video of an automaton by Vichy depicting a drunken man on a park bench. I find the figure's movements very convincing: the sloppy swaying and shifting, the heavy eyelids, the silently muttering to himself.

Vichy was known for the subtlety of motion their automata possessed. Vichy showed several automata at Paris Universal Exposition of 1878. One observer noted that, "...Vichy's automata are distinguished by the flexibility and precision of their gestures...". One hundred and thirty years later, I can't argue.

Vichy is one of one of several French automata makers covered in the large format hardcover Automata: The Golden Age 1848-1914

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