Monday, January 25, 2010

DaVinci's Last Supper - automaton by Phalibois

DaVinci's
Shown here is a rare automaton by the famous maker Phalibois representing Davinci's painting The Last Supper. It is a large scene-style automaton measuring about four feet in length. It could be the only one of its kind in the world.

The Last Supper automaton will be going to auction along with one of Pierrot Serenading the Moon by Vichy, and another large scale scene of a ship rocking on the ocean in front of a rotating backdrop of a city shoreline in Europe.

These three automata were featured in a traveling exhibition that toured Europe, Australia and New Zealand in the early 1920s, under the name of The London Mechanical and Electrical exhibition.

The auction is to be held on 25th February 2010 in New Zealand by Art+Objects under the name "The Newman Collection".


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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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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Antique automata and toy auction, July 25th 2009

Upcoming antique autoamta and toy auction
An upcoming auction on July 25th, 2009 in Indianapolis will feature twelve vintage automata including a French 19th century monkey violinist automaton, a Tete Jumeau Russian tea server, a Prussian dancing couple, a French flower girl, a magician, and a cat in milk pail.

There will also be a large number of vintage toys including a large collection of tin wind-ups and battery operated toys, cast iron mechanical toys, pull toys, a balancing musician, a doll on horseback, and an acrobatic clown.

Here is a link with more photographs and information on the upcoming automata and vintage toy auction.

[ Thanks Genevieve! ]


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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Vintage automaton of rabbit eating a cabbage

Vintage automaton of rabbit eating a cabbage
Here is a classic vintage automaton motif -- the rabbit eating a head of cabbage from the inside out. This one (like many) is of French manufacture and is currently up for auction on eBay.

From the eBay item description
Clockwork windup mechanism that when wound activates both the movement of the rabbit and the music box inside. After winding just pull the activation rod and the music begins. Rabbit emerges from the cabbage with a slight turn to the right, chews a small piece of cabbage in its mouth, raises and lowers its ears while chewing, quickly makes a slight left turn and drops back into the cabbage. Rabbit fur covered metal skeleton with glass eyes.

Here is the eBay listing with many additional photographs of the rabbit eating cabbage automaton.


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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Airway Suspenders - advertising automaton

Airway Suspenders - advertising automaton
Automata have been connected with advertising for a VERY long time. Some of the masterworks from the 1700s were made by clockmakers showing off their expertise. Here is a more modern, but clever version. This automaton actually demonstrates that Airway brand suspenders say put when you move.

From the eBay listing for the Airway Suspenders display automaton:
Up for auction is this very amusing, 19 1/2" tall X 13 1/2" wide, electrical automaton figural advertising display rack & unit. The composition man rocks/sways slowly from side to side while the cloth elastic & leather suspenders practically stay in place. The base in made of oak and the mechanical unit is in fully-functional condition. The man has had an old restoration to the neck area, but it was extremely well executed. The unit seems to date from the 1940s or '50s.

The eBay listing has many large pictures showing all angles of the automaton including the motor assembly.

Here the link to the Airway Suspenders advertising display automaton.


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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Today is the last chance to pre-bid on Theriault's

Today is the last chance to pre-bid on Theriault's
You can register to bid live online with real-time video and sound feed to make you feel as if you were at the auction itself.

If you are interested in following the auction or bidding online, it is important to pre-register today.


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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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Monday, November 17, 2008

Theriault's automata auction book with essays

Theriault's automata auction book with essays
Even if you do not bid on a gorgeous antique automaton or attend Theriault's upcoming automata auction, you can still own a piece of this event in the form the auction catalog.

The catalog -- a hardcover book, really -- features a hologram of the "Kneeling Egyptian Harpist" on the front. Of course, the book contains detailed descriptions for the 150+ fine automata that are in the auction. But it goes far beyond being just a catalog because it also features a series of essays on various common automata themes. The essays deal with the great outdoors, exoticism, spectacle, theater, and occupational themes.

I am told that there is something for everyone here -- including magic automata, very complex clock automata, and the earliest animated window displays.

Here is where you can order Theriault's auction catalogs, including the one for the upcoming automata auction.


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

19th century life-size musical peacock automaton

19th century French musical peacock automaton
This truly astounding automaton depicts a life-sized peacock with a fanned-out tail spanning over 7 feet.

From the auction listing:
The Peacock begins its grand performance in the tail-down position, regally he turns his head and body separately from side-to-side. then he proudly raises his elegant tail plumage and fans his tail out for the fullest effect. The bird then turns side-to-side again, such that all can appreciate his beauty. At the conclusion, he lowers his tail back down in a graceful and realistic manner. All the while, music plays.

The maker is unknown and no other examples of this model are known to exist! The size, age, condition, superb construction, and uniqueness set the estimated value of this automaton between $50,000 and $75,000 USD.

Here is a page with the full description with a video of The Magnificent Peacock automataon.


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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Theriault's to auction automata on Nov. 23, 2008

Theriaults to auction automata on Nov.  23, 2008
Theriault's will be having a large auction of automata on November 23, 2008. The collection of Jerry and Bunny Steinbaum is to be auctioned. The Steinbaums collected for over 20 years, traveling to France, England, and New York to acquire an amazing collection of very rare and fine automata.

There will be more posts over the next few days about this extraordinary event and the treasures that will be for sale.

Here is a great article that presents an overview of the collection and the event.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Gentleman smoker automaton from 1905

Here is a antique piece going to auction on eBay on November 9th, 2008. I've always thought that smoking automatons are particularly clever.

The secret generally lies in the fact that the smoke from the cigarette or pipe held in the hand is not usually drawn through the mouth. Rather, it usually passes down a hidden pipe in the arm to a bellows in the figure, where it is then transferred back up to the mouth to be expelled. A very ingenious means of creating the illusion of smoking without the complications of creating a tight seal at the mouth.

From the eBay listing:
GENTLEMAN SMOKER AUTOMATON - The man has a papier mache head w/ open mouth, glass eyes, bisque forearms, and holds a black cigarette holder in right arm. When wound, music plays, he raises right arm to mouth, and turns head from side to side. 24" (62cm) Bottom of base to top of hat.

Here is the full eBay listing for Gentleman smoker automaton from 1905


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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Levitation Magician Automaton by Thomas Kuntz

Levitation Magician Automaton by Thomas Kuntz
Shown here is The Great Kundalini Thelema-gician!, a one-of-a-kind automaton by artist Thomas Kuntz.

The automaton performs the following sequence:

1 - The magician looks left to right and his mouth opens and closes as if addressing the audience.
2 - He waves a wand over the girl.
3 - The girl struggles as if to covey something has gone wrong.
4 - Her feet wiggle and she begins to levitate.
5 - The magician's long pointed hat levitates also.
6 - The girl descends and the magician opens the left side his robe. (A message or item could be included here.)

A very complex modern automaton, the masterful sculpting, engineering, painting, and cohesive theme are hallmarks of Kuntz's work. He is a rare talent.

Here is the eBay listing for this amazing Levitation Magician Automaton by Thomas Kuntz


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Monday, September 08, 2008

Antique Rotating Stand with Combined Music Box

Antique Rotating Stand with Combined Music Box
Here is a very interesting piece from the 1800's made by Kalliope Musik Werke of Leipzig, Germany. The device features a stand in the center that rotates when the the spring wound mechanism is activated. Because you can place anything you like on the stand, it is very flexible in how it may be used. On the stand, one may place a figurine (as shown here), seasonal items, holiday-related items, special occasion items, or prized possessions. There is also a fine music box inside the box that plays 7 inch kalliope discs.

Here is the full listing for the Antique Rotating Stand with Combined Music Box.


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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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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Large Magician Automaton from the Film 'Sleuth'

Check out this fantastic vintage magician automaton that was featured in the film Sleuth (the original one).

At 56 1/2 inches high, the figure is approaching life-size. The magician does a transformation routine, magically changing the items under the hat four times.

This was the very automaton used in the movie "Sleuth" (1972)-- a thriller, starring Sir Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Amazing!

Here is a very complete listing with additional photographs of the Large Magician Automaton from the Film 'Sleuth'.


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Friday, May 30, 2008

Early Paul Spooner - Frustrated Felines on Ebay

A master of the contemporary automata art form, Paul Spooner, is known for his ingenious and artful automata. His work is available at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre shop and can also be seen at The Fourteen Balls Toy web site.

Shown here is an early Spooner design entitled Frustrated Felines that is currently available on eBay. It's cool to see the label that is on the underside of the piece.

Here's the eBay listing for Frustrated Felines that also features an article on Paul Spooner.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Magic Decapitation Automaton by Artist Zdenka

Swiss artist, Zdenka, is apparently known for her work in making fully functional limited edition automata in the style of the 1800s. There does seem to be a lot of detail and workmanship this magic-themed automaton. I have seen antiques that perform this same trick. The listing says she uses rare doll bodies to make up these pieces.

This Magic Decapitation Automaton is currently open for bids on eBay.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hand-Cranked Barrel Piano Automaton by Hicks

Hand-Cranked Barrel Piano Automaton by HicksTake a look at this hand-cranked barrel roll piano automaton selling today on eBay. The seller says that it is attributed to George Hicks and dates to around 1850.

Here are some of the details of this piece: 17 key piano with 3 bells, plays 6 songs, original barrel, original mechanics, some original figures, surface of the music box is original, in various woods, original hand crank and hardware.

The mechanisms are in working order, though the keys in are in need of tuning. I love the fact that it is hand-cranked.

The eBay listing has many more photos including close-ups of the figures, the mechanism, and the backside of the piece.

Here is the eBay listing for the Hand-Cranked Barrel Piano Automaton by Hicks.

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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

Coin-Operated English String Magic Trick Machine

Coin-Operated String Magic Trick AutomatonThis is another magic-related piece going to auction today, May 11th 2008.

This appears to be a coin-operated magic trick. It clearly involves string, so I am guessing that it performs some type trick in which the string is cut into two and then restored to a single string again. Just a guess.

We do know that this machine was made by Bryans Works from Kegworth, Derby, England. There is a scrolling text window to explain what is happening during the trick. The machine requires an old (English) penny (the large ones) so must be of some age. The mechanism looks very clean. I'd love to see a video of the trick being performed.

There are many close-up photographs of the various parts of this piece and its mechanism on the eBay listing for this Coin-Operated String Magic Trick Automaton

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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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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Coin-Op Fortune Teller Automaton with Film Strip

Fortune Teller Automaton with Film StripThis coin-operated fortune teller automaton seems to have used a film strip to show a fortune in the "crystal" ball.

My guess is that the mechanism used a Geneva wheel to advance the film one (or some other odd number) of frames. When the film was in place, a small light bulb would probably have lit for a few moments, allowing the viewer to read their fortune.

Here's a tantalizing view of the actual mechanism:
Fortune Teller Automaton with Film Strip Mechanism You can see the old battery in the lower right. Hey...are those thread spools on which the film sat? I would love to get a chance to fix this piece up.

Here's the listing on eBay for the fortune teller automaton with answer strip and coin mechanism.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Wild Contemporary Magician Automaton on eBay

Contemporary Magician Automaton frontHere is a very interesting automaton depicting a contemporary magician performing a trick. The image is a bit small, but the magician appears to make a rabbit disappear or else turn into another animal It is hard to tell exactly which.

Contemporary Magician Automaton backSimilar automata I have heard about have a concealed item turn into something else. This piece looks quite complex with a lot of activity to supplement the actual magic trick being performed. Just take a look at all those gears and linkages!

Here is the listing on eBay for the Contemporary Magician Automaton.

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