Friday, April 09, 2010

EL CONDOR PASA - hand-cranked bird automaton

Check out this charming automaton by retired civil engineer Roberto LouMa.

See more of his work on his YouTube page.


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Friday, March 26, 2010

"FAKIR" magician automaton by Thomas Kuntz

Another masterful magician automaton from Thomas Kuntz!

From the video description:
This video shows the presentation and some construction highlights of a magical automaton. This piece, an original sculpture by Thomas Kuntz portrays the exotic albeit "dead" Fakir, performing a peculiar cups and balls routine ending in regurgitation. The mechanism needed to be extremely precise to produce the desired result. It was constructed of solid brass the cams acting on levers were cut by hand... all other mechanical components were custom machined metal as well either brass or steel. To allow the operator the ultimate control over speed and stop/ starts there is NO electricity on this piece, all functions are purely mechanical, cams levers gears linkages and a very unusual bent pitch sound device also controlled by a cam that emits a sitar kind of sound over the hum of a ratchet/pawl assembly that also serves the purpose of protecting the machine if the operator turns the crank in the wrong direction. The case is custom made too from solid oak and the mechanism can be viewed from a door at the back.

See more magic automata by Thomas Kuntz on his web site.


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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Scientific automaton of a young T. Rex in motion

This is a longer than usual video post, but if you have the time, it is fascinating. This 45 minute episode of National Geographic Explorer documents the construction of a sophisticated scientific automaton depicting a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex in motion.

Here is where you can learn more about the project: T. Rex Walks Again at the National Geographic web site.

[ Thanks Dean!]

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Pie Factory - great paper automaton kit

Check out this amazing paper automaton kit and its delightfully dark humor!

Here is where you can get The Pie Factory automaton kit at Cool4Cats.


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Artist Matt Smith's Silversmith automaton

video
Here we see the things that make automata from Fourteen Balls Toy Company (this one designed and made by Matt Smith): mechanical mastery, excellent carving, incredible attention to detail, subtle motions, and wonderful humor.

See more images of the Silversmith automaton by the Fourteen balls Toy on their web site.


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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Restored fortune teller automaton circa 1900

Restored fortune teller automaton circa 1900
Here is a restored store-front attraction depicting a fortune teller. The automaton was made in Germany around 1900. For the last 40 years, it has been in the foyer of a mansion in Newport, RI.

From the eBay description:
The hands and arms move up and down in a lifting motion (for the picking up of display cards that were supplied by the renter of the automaton), along with the head nodding left to right. Another charming feature is the body articulating up and down. Additionally, the eyes move in unison, as though following you, and the mouth and lips purse as if it were speaking to you. All movements are synchronous and very smooth.

Here is a link to many more images and a very extensive description of this window display fortune teller automaton.


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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sky scene automaton with ducks and biplane

Here's a clever hand-cranked automaton that features a sky scene with ducks flying toward the viewer. A biplane does circles around the birds and the sky. Take a look at the beautiful wooden gear works when the video shows the back of the piece. Very nice!


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Friday, January 01, 2010

Mad God Universe - by Newstead & Steadman

Keith Newstead collaborated with the artist Ralph Steadman on this amazingly extensive and eccentric automaton.

From the YouTube description:
It was commissioned for an exhibition called 'Devious Devices' in 1990. It features God rising above storm clouds. Below the earth is supported on 4 elephants which in turn are supported by strange creatures. It was about 10 feet high and I have no idea where it is now.

See more automata by Keith Newstead on his web site.


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Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Forest drinking king automaton clock

Justin Miller -- a fan of The Automata / Automaton Blog and collector of Black Forest clocks -- recently added a rare clock to his collection. He has been kind enough to share the piece with us. Made circa 1870 in the Black Forest, the clock features a drinking king automaton figure. Every 10 minutes or on demand the king comes to life.

The automaton's sequence of movement is as follows:


1 - The king's left arm holds a large beer. His arm raises the bottle across his chest above the glass. The wrist then tips the bottle to pour a drink.

2 - The arm with the bottle returns to his side.

3 - The right arm holding the glass is lifted up to his mouth.

4 - The mouth opens to accept the beverage.

5 - The eyes drop to the glass to confirm it is empty.

6 - The eyes return to looking ahead.

7 - The mouth closes as the glass is returned to resting position.

See this and Justin Miller's other wonderful Black Forest clocks on his blog, http://blackforestclocks.org/


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mario Hammer paper automaton download

Mario Hammer paper automaton download
Another Mario Brother's inspired paper automaton download is available at Nintendo Papercraft. The paper Mario smashes a Goomba with a large hammer.

Here's the page with the Mario Hammer paper automaton kit.

[ Thanks Alan! ]


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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, October 27, 2009

Skeleton Band Automaton by Wanda Sowry

video
Check out this excellent new motorized donation box automaton by artist Wanda Sowry!

See more automata by Wanda Sowry on her web site.


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Sunday, October 18, 2009

THE HARLEQUIN automaton by PIERRE MAYER

Take a look at this video of a charming new piece by Pierre Mayer called "The Harlequin", which looks to be inspired by a classic automaton of old.

See more automata by Pierre Mayer on his web site.

[ Thanks Phil Sing! ]


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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Maillardet's automaton at Franklin Institute

Maillardet's automaton at the Franklin Institute
I had the chance to visit Philadelphia recently, location of The Franklin Institute whose stated mission is "to inspire an understanding of and passion for science and technology learning." For this visitor, they did just that.

The Institute has several traveling exhibits and at least ten continuing exhibits that fulfill their mission admirably. I was there to see one thing in particular. You see, the Franklin Institute is home to one of the world's great mechanical treasures: The Maillardet Automaton.

The automaton is the centerpiece of the Institute's Amazing Machines exhibit -- and with good reason. Created somewhere between 1800 an 1810, the Automaton has the largest "memory" of any such machine ever created. It is capable of drawing four sketches and writing three poems (two in French and one in English).

To see what I mean, check out this video of the automaton in action.
I was fortunate enough to have been able to see the automaton in operation the day I visited -- a rare event, since it is not demonstrated on a regular basis.

I was greeted by several friendly and helpful museum officials. Most of my time was spent with Charles Penniman -- a long-time researcher, caretaker, and operator of the automaton. Mr. Penniman demonstrated how the machine's two spring-driven motors are wound, the writing instrument calibrated, and the machine set into motion. He answered my questions and pointed out various details of the machine and its sophisticated sequences of action.

Seeing the brass skeletonized figure of a boy spring to life, deftly guiding a writing instrument over a blank sheet of paper to create an intricate sketch or a beautifully penned poem filled me with awe. As someone who appreciates mechanical things, there was no doubt that I was in the presence of greatness.

Below is one of the drawings the automaton creates -- a landscape depicting a Chinese palace.
Drawing by Maillardet's Automaton
To my mind, Maillardet's Automaton has to be one of the most impressive unions of mechanical engineering and artistry that has ever been created.

Beyond its antiquity and complexity, the automaton has a fascinating history. At one point, the automaton verified its own origin when, restored to working order, it signed one of its poems in French with the statement "Written by Maillardet's Automaton" (below).
Maillardet's automaton - signed poem
More recently, this automaton was inspiration for Brian Selznick's book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which features an automaton very much like Maillardet's.

Here is a longer video shot in November of 2007, when Brian Selznick visited The Franklin Institute for a signing of his book. Andrew Baron, master mechanician, is man operating the machine in this video.
My sincere thanks goes out to The Franklin Institute and the many people who contributed to the demonstration I was fortunate enough to witness.

While you may not be so lucky as to see the automaton in operation, it is on permanent display and features a great exhibit complete with a wonderful, informative video (not shown here). I am certain that the Amazing Machines exhibit will appeal to readers of The Automata / Automaton Blog, as will the museum as a whole. If you will be anywhere near Philadelphia, I urge you to plan a trip to The Franklin Institute.

You can learn more about Maillardet's writing and drawing automaton at The Franklin Institute's page on Maillardet's Automaton and another page they have with information about the automaton.


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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Video of antique walking peacock automaton

I posted last month about an antique walking peacock automaton by Roullet and Decamps that was on eBay. I'm happy to report that the peacock has found a good home and will soon be getting a new coat of feathers.

Visit the AutomataMania Workshop to see more pictures of the walking peacock clockwork automaton.


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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Build a paper automaton that can draw a picture!

Perhaps there is a theme this week; take a look at this amazing paper automata kit that draws a little picture on a Post-It Note!

From the kit description:
When the handle is turned the artist looks up at his model, then down at his easel and -amazingly- he starts to draw. Keep turning and you'll be amazed to see that he actually does a real pencil drawing of the model on a 'post-it' note! Although the model of the artist, the lady and all the little accessories (Paints, brushes,etc) are detailed and amusing, the real complexity lies within the case under their feet. The handle operates a 'worm' gear which in turn drives two large cams. One controls the forwards-and-backwards movement of the artist's arm, the other the 'side-to-side' movements. A series of levers transmit the movements and the combination of both actions results in the drawing.

Here's the link to The Artist Automaton kit page.


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Monday, September 14, 2009

Hand-cranked pencil writing automaton

Automata that write or draw have a distinguished history. Here's a modern version by the prolific Osamu Kanda for your consideration.


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Friday, September 04, 2009

Tippoo's Tiger - automaton and organ

Tippoo's Tiger is famous life-size carved wooden tiger shown attacking a man. The automaton makes sounds for the tiger and the man and also has a basic playable organ built in. A one-of-a-kind piece with a remarkable history.

From the Victoria and Albert web site:
Concealed in the bodywork is a mechanical pipe-organ with several parts, all operated simultaneously by a crank-handle emerging from the tiger's shoulder. Inside the tiger and the man are weighted bellows with pipes attached. Turning the handle pumps the bellows and controls the air-flow to simulate the growls of the tiger and cries of the victim. The cries are varied by the approach of the hand towards the mouth and away, as the left arm - the only moving part - is raised and lowered.

Another pair of bellows, linked to the same handle, supplies wind for a miniature organ of 18 pipes built into the tiger, with stops under the tail. Its structure is like that of European mechanical organs, but adapted for hand operation by a set of ivory button keys reached through a flap in the animal's side. The mechanism has been repaired several times and altered from its original state. It is now too fragile to be operated regularly.

Here is a link to more on the history of Tippoo's Tiger.

Here is a link to a 26 minute video on Tippoo and a bit about the Tiger.

[ Thanks Falk! ]


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Monday, August 31, 2009

Too Much Coffee - paper automaton kit

Here is a short video of Rob Ives's latest paper animation kit called "Too Much Coffee". I feel for this guy; I've been there!

Here is the link for purchasing and downloading the files for the Too Much Coffee automaton.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sand-powered acrobat automaton

Sand-powered acrobat automaton
'ALFRED THE AMAZING' is a sand-powered acrobatic automaton currently available on eBay.

From the eBay description:
When the box is rotated and set down, the sand turns a wheel (axle) and the trapeze guy does his acrobatic wonders, and extremely dangerous feats of daring and thrill, and he doesn't use a net.

Here the eBay listing Alfred the Amazing sand-powered automaton


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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Crocodile paper automaton kit video

This funny and macabre automaton is available as a kit from the folks at cool4cats.

Here's the page where you can order The Crocodile automaton kit (scroll down to near the bottom of the page).


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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Contraption" automaton by Tom Haney

Enjoy this video of Tom Haney's latest automaton called "Contraption". The end of the video features some cool "in-progress" still photographs.

Check out more of Tom Haney's work on his web site.


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Friday, August 07, 2009

Art Deco Vitascope "Rocking Ship" Automaton/clock.

Art Deco Vitascope - Rocking Ship automaton / clock.
I don't get to point to automata from this particular era and aesthetic too often, so this is kind of a treat. Here is an Art Deco style "Vitascope" depicting a ship rocking on the waves. It is, obviously, also a clock. The case reminds me of a bread-box. Personally, I would love to own one of these.

Details from the eBay listing:
• Art Deco period automata electric clock in very good condition & perfect working order.
• The green bakalite case has naturally faded over the years on the front & left side in particular, the case has light age assosiated scratches but has no cracks, chips or repairs.
• It is in perfect working order, the ships rocks back & forth, & the backlight fades from dawn to dusk, it runs smoothly & quietly keeping accurate time.
• The ship has areas of discolouration as is usual with these clocks, but as they go is in excellent condition.
• The aluminium back cover has a lot of paint losses but the Vitascope trade label is still visible & the serial number:00597 is stamped onto the bottom.
• The light can be swithed on & off with the toggle switch & the red knob to the right of the light switch is turned to start the ship movement.
• Size:12 1/2 inches high, 10 1/2 inches wide, 6 3/4 inches deep.

Here is the eBay listing with many great picture of this Art Deco Vitascope "Rocking Ship" Automata / Clock


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Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Conjuror, automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO

The Conjuror, automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO
Here is a photo of "The Conjuror" -- the latest creation from mechanical doll maker Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO.

From the artist's description:
The Conjuror is a classical automaton about 2 feet high with 7 movements including gong and and music movement. The action is operated by specially designed heavy duty winding motor 36 lb-in torque. The Conjuror makes his magic with 5 objects, which replace each other on the table. Music mechanism acts by "endless" perforated paper strip.

More about this automata (including video) will be posted soon on Anatoly's site www.automatadolls.com.


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Monday, July 27, 2009

Animated peanut butter lid video, Part 1


Here is an exquisitely detailed miniature scene constructed by Christopher Dowie. The entire scene fits on top of a peanut butter jar lid! In this first of two parts, the video examines the scene and animated figures. In part 2, we will take a detailed look at the mechanisms and techniques used to animate the scene.

[ Thanks Karin! ]

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Video of Vielmetter drawing clown tin toy

The other day, I wrote about a drawing tin-toy automaton that was on eBay. Here is some video of the toy showing how the cams are installed in the base and how the clown draws with a pencil on paper.

From the YouTube description:
A very rare and clever toy produced in Germany approximately 1885 until about 1905. The little hand-cranked tin artist draws with a graphite stick onto paper via 'programmed' double-cams (x and y axis).

Some texts say it was an expensive wealthy person's toy, and other texts mention it as a give-away to favorite clients of the firm Phillip Vielmetter Mechanische Werkstatten of Berlin, Germany. This ultra-rare original box was repaired by Randy's Toy Shop.

I suspect the 5 cams are from various production dates. They are labeled (in German): HAHN, KAKADU, GLADSTONE, HARLEKIN, AFFE. There are several more cams that I do not have, such as Napolean, Balzaax, Queen Victoria, and still others.

I had only seen photographs of this amazing toy in the books Mechanical Toys (Spilhaus and Spilhaus)and Automata and Mechanical Toys (Hiller). It's great to finally see the actual toy in operation! Now...to get a peek inside...

[ Thanks Els! ]


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Friday, July 24, 2009

'Clocks Revenge' automaton by Richard Willmott

The Clocks Revenge automaton by Richard Willmott
Horologist Richard Willmott in the U.K. created this automaton (shown above) called "The Clocks Revenge". He wrote a note explaining how he created this piece that was inspired by my own automaton called "An Interesting Specimen".

From Richard's letter describing the piece
I applied my twisted mind to dreaming up a similar model which would involve clocks and came up with the idea that over the years old clocks must have suffered terrible indignities at the hands of incompetent repairers. So my model would be "The Clocks Revenge". I had a 6 inch glass dome and in the local charity shop found a child's toy which had a musical movement that played the nursery rhyme Hickory Dickory Dock. A plywood box was made to take 3 aluminum shafts, one for the cranking handle, one to take the two lifter cams to operate the arms and one to operate the music. The musical movement needed to run at a speed slower than that at which the handle was cranked so a small gearbox was built using clock wheels and pinions from my scrap box. Loose pin and slot joints were used where the shafts joined the gearbox and the musical movement to cover for alignment inaccuracies in my construction. Now I built a clock workshop to go under the dome. The notice on the wall is based on one that I saw in a clock repairers workshop in the USA. From limewood I carved the figure of the clock repairer. It had arms jointed at the shoulder and operated by fine wires linked to levers operated by two four leaf cams in the box. The whole lot was then fixed to the box and the representation of a clock with an angry face was attached to the back with its hands (arms) holding down the glass dome. Finally a humorous verse to give some idea of what was going on was composed and affixed.

His note went on to say that if you are an automata or clock fanatic and live within traveling distance of Elizabeth City, NC he would love to see you when he visits the U.S. in the spring 2010. He can be reached by email at: dickytickers at yahoo.co.uk


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Friday, July 17, 2009

Tin clown artist - picture drawing automaton

Tin clown artist - picture drawing automaton
I've only had the pleasure of seeing this toy/automaton in books. This tin toy clown is able to draw a variety of pictures with a pencil on paper. You insert different cams into the base of the toy to change the picture that the clown will draw. Very, very clever.

From the eBay description
Turn the crank and it makes little drawings! This clever Phillip Vielmetter Tin Clown Artist toy was manufactured around 1885-1905, and is in excellent working and great cosmetic condition. It comes with 5 different cams and the original box.

Here's the full eBay listing with some great photographs of this mechanical drawing clown automaton.


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vintage clockwork clown musician automaton

Vintage clockwork clown musician automaton
Currently on eBay, here is a vintage clockwork clown automaton, measuring approximately 15" tall overall from the base to the spinning top on his nose.

From the eBay listing:
When wound, the clown moves the violin bow back and forth across the violin as if playing it, the clockwork makes a Plink-Plink music noise from beneath the base, and the tin top balancing on the clown's nose spins around! There is a bit of staining on the base and a few chips of paint are missing here and there on the base, the clown's shoes, and the top, but overall the toy is in excellent condition!

Here is the full eBay listing with many additional photographs of this vintage clockwork clown musician automaton


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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Migrating Elephant Automata by Dave Goodchild

Here is some video of an automata designed and built by Dave Goodchild in 2002. The piece shows a family of three elephants who are using there flying machines to migrate south for the winter. Charming!

See this piece and some beautiful wooden orreries on Dave Goodchild's YouTube page.


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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Antique Jumeau piano-player automaton

Antique Jumeau piano-player automaton
In an effort to show some of the classics on a regular basis, here is a vintage Jumeau automaton depicting an girl playing the piano.

From the eBay listing:
The automaton encompasses an EXQUISITE toy piano measuring 14 1/2" high, 6 1/2" deep and 14" wide, with an antique Jumeau head doll measuring 20" tall standing in front, making the total depth of the automaton about 14" from the back of the piano to the back of the doll.

The piano is made of ebony and walnut veneer wood with original fancy BRONZE side handles and two elaborate three-armed CANDELABRAS in the front, with IVORY KEYS and original music holder with antique French lithograph SHEET MUSIC! Unlike most stamped Jumeau heads that were used for automatons, this one is a size 6 RARE INCISED DEPOSE bisque head with red artist's marks! She has her original long brown MOHAIR WIG and CORK PATE, brown PAPERWEIGHT EYES, and STUNNING painted facial features and modeling! We did not want to compromise her originality by removing her original wig and pate as they are still attached firmly to her, but from well lighting and scrutinizing the outside of the bisque it appears to have no hairlines, chips, cracks or restorations!

She wears FACTORY ORIGINAL clothes including a cotton red jacket and matching skirt embellished with fancy black SOUTACHE trim, original white ORGANDY jacket collar and undergarments with pleated under slip and matching pantaloons, both trimmed in identical lace! Antique JET GLASS doll earrings, antique dark brown leather shoes with silver buckles and antique black cotton socks, and an original black satin JUMEAU hat with silver BEE INSIGNIA and red plumage complete her overall ORIGINAL FABULOUS presentation!

The automaton has FOUR melodies including the famous French tune "La Toreador" from the opera "Carmen", and FOUR distinct movements including PAPER MACHE hands that move up and down on the piano, and sideways, simulating "playing" of the ivory and ebony keys, as she "glances" moving her head from side to side and then up and down, as if nodding her head to the beat of the music! When the original key is wound and the knob is pulled out on the side of the piano, the entertainment begins as this lovely little girl gives her MELODIOUS CONCERT!

All movements are in good working condition and the tunes are consistent except for times where there is a fading in and out of the music, but overall still PLAYING BEAUTIFULLY!

Here is the full listing with many additional photographs of this antique Jumeau piano player automaton


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Sunday, July 05, 2009

'MAN EATING SHARK' automaton!

Artist Michael Jacobs created this playful automaton using recycled wood and tin, a rebuilt plastic doll's head, copper and steel wire, screws, nuts and bolts, pop-rivets, paper mache, molding paste, and acrylic paints

From the automaton description
When you continuously turn the crank at the lower right, the man uses his arms and hands to raise the shark, his mouth opens hungrily, his legs move up and down and back and forth, and the shark's tail and mouth wriggle up and down furiously.

See many more nice photographs with captions for the Man Eating Shark automaton.

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Siegfried and Roy automaton by Pierre Mayer

Here's a fantastic automaton by Pierre Mayer depicting magicians Siegfried and Roy. The video shows the magicians transport and transform. You also get an up-close look at some of the mechanics behind the magic! So cool.

See more of Pierre Mayer's magic automata on his web site.


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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, June 23, 2009

Musical automaton ring with moving figures

Musical automaton ring with moving figures
Now here is a unique piece. This antique ring is an automaton with moving figures built into it! Granted, I don't fully understand how you operate the ring, but the mere concept is unspeakably cool.

From the eBay item description:
This is a very fine and unusual 18K gold mechanical ring with a moving woman and men are playing a song by turning a crank. The background is fine glazed. The ring is in a beautiful and working condition from Isaac Daniel Piguet, Genève, circa 1805.

Here is a link to the full listing for the Musical automaton ring with moving figures.


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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tom Haney's long animated automaton clock

Tom Haney's long animate automaton clock
Here is a look at some of the latest work by automata-artist Tom Haney. According to Haney,this commissioned piece is "a site specific work -- a clock that is 74" long by 12" high. The clock face sits in the center flanked by 4 articulated objects including a flying woman that I am most proud of.

You can see several "in progress" photographs and four videos of the clock in action on his web site.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Song for a Dead Moon - new look for an old theme

According to the artist -- Keith Newstead -- this is a steampunk version of a 19th century automata.

See more of his work at Keith Newstead's web site.


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Aquio Nishida cow automaton with sound effect

A few days ago, we featured a nifty cow automaton with an integrated sound effect. Here another by the late Japanese automata maker, Aquio Nishida. This one has an added feature: you can add or remove the sound module at will.


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Roullet and Decamps smoking monkey automaton

Here is a good video of a smoking automaton -- once a popular theme. This one, made by Roullet and Decamps, features a monkey puffing away on a cigarette.

From the YouTube description
This monkey has been trained to smoke cigars and cigarettes. He was made around 1900 by the Parisian firm of Roullet and Decamps and is made of Papier Mache covered with real fur. His enigmatic green glass eyes show just how much pleasure he gets from a fine tobacco.


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Friday, May 22, 2009

German whistling figure carved wood automaton

German whistling figure carved wood automaton
Here is an old German whistler figure. The carved wood automaton dates to the early 20th century and measures about 18 1/2" high.

While this particular one isn't fully operational at the moment, the eBay listing features many great photographs of the mechanism including a close-up shot of the clever bellows arrangement that provides air to the whistle mechanism.

Here is the link to the eBay listing for this German whistling figure automaton.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cow automaton with integrated sound effects

What a clever idea! This contemporary automaton by artist Dominique Corbin uses a bell and a toy sound-maker to really bring this creature to life. I wasn't able to embed the movie here, but I encourage you to follow the link below to see and hear the cow automaton in action!

Here's a link to the video of the cow automaton with built-in sound effects.

[ Found via http://manivelles.unblog.fr ]


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wooden helicopter contraption automaton

I like the (nearly) all-wood construction of the helicopter contraption automaton shown in this video.

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Accordion player automaton nickelodeon

Accordion player automaton nickelodeon
Here's an interesting coin-operated automaton depicting an accordion player currently on the eBay auction site.

From the eBay listing
Made by Swiss automaton builder Zwahlen from Yverdon ca. 1960. Moves finger, lips,eye brows, eyes and plays with tape recorder inside. You can put loud/soft and playing time.

Here's a link to the eBay listing for this Accordion player automaton nickelodeon.


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Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Mobile toyshop by Keith Newstead Automata

A charming piece by Keith Newstead depicting a traveling toy shop. Enchanting.

See more of excellent automata on Keith Newstead's web site.


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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bowling automaton with free & semi-free objects

My friend and colleague, Falk Keuten, over at the excellent Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik blog has discovered an innovative -- if somewhat mysterious -- automata artist via some YouTube videos.

Check out the use of a ball-lifting mechanism, an articulated figure, a free object (the ball), and some semi-free objects (the bowling pins). This is a impressive combination of techniques. I admire the all wood construction and the fact there is no need for the user to 'reset' the piece.

Here is the original post (in German) from Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik.

[ Thanks Falk! ]


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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Rocky Mountain High by Uncle Don's Mechanicals

Rocky Mountain High by Uncle Don's Mechanicals
Turn the crank on this nifty wall-mounted automaton and the grass waves back and forth, the car bounces with steam coming out of the hood and exhaust coming out the back, and the driver bounces up and down in his seat. Finally, the sun moves across the sky with the clouds just missing it every time.

See this and other wall-mounted automata at Uncle Don's Mechanicals.

[ Thanks Joe! ]


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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Wind-up automaton dancer from 1800s

Wind-up automaton dancer from 1800s
According to the eBay description for this item, it is a wind-up dancing automaton from the 1800s. The piece was made by Perry and Company, London.

For more details and additional pictures here is the eBay listing for the Wind-up automaton dancer from 1800s By Perry and Co.


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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO's hybrid automaton/robot

Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO's hybrid automaton/robotAutomata maker Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO has unveiled his new creation, entitled ATTABOY.

ATTABOY is a hybrid automaton/robot that has 8 body movements, can speak, do a card trick with special prop, and draws 17 images on the paper with a marker.

The piece includes some 15 motors, 46 relays, 34 cams, and a 24-button wireless transmitter/receiver.

More about this automaton will be soon be available on Anatoly’s site.


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Monday, March 30, 2009

Antique leaping tiger clockwork automaton

Roullet et Decamps antique leaping tiger clockwork automaton
Shown here is a fine example of an automaton by the French firm of Roullet et Decamps, made around 1890.

From the eBay Listing
When wound, the tiger turns his head slowly from side to side as if sniffing out or stalking something, he crouches down (his rear legs go forward under his body and his front legs stretch out in front of him), and then he leaps into the air and moves forward about six inches! This is amazing to see, and it'll startle you every time he does it! In the center of the tiger's tummy is the brass on/off pin. The pin should be pushed in before winding, and then pulled out once the tiger has been placed on a hard surface. He works best on carpet since he has short metal pins that protrude from the bottom of his rear paws that give him the traction to leap forward.

The eBay listing for this jumping the tiger automaton offers more details as well as 12 photographs from every angle.


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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reproduction monkey automaton sewing machine

Reproduction monkey automaton sewing machine
From the Sewing Machine Collector site:
Over 100 years on, and the sewing machine legacy left by Max Sandt appears to be alive and well. As a tribute to the father of figural automaton sewing machines, a French enthusiast has created the gilded monkey. The project, which took three years to complete, certainly seems to have attracted attention, for a full story is to be filmed for French TV. A series of only ten machines has been produced. The stitch plate carries the serial number together with further identification marks. These fully functional chain stitch machines are not inexpensive, but the edition has sold fast. As long as no more are made, they will surely become highly desirable in future years. And speaking of the future, our creative machine manufacturer reports that further projects are already in hand....
Here is the original posting on The Sewing Machine Collector site.

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Monday, March 23, 2009

Giant hand-cranked butcher automaton

"Hand-cranked" may be a bit misleading, as it seems like operating this giant automaton would be a full-body workout!

See a few other shots of the giant butcher automaton at flickr.

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Friday, March 20, 2009

Fire Dragon paper automaton by Walter Ruffler

Fire Dragon paper automaton by Walter Ruffler
Check out this paper automaton kit by Walter Ruffler called 'Fire Dragon'.

From the product description:
Normally a gentle beast, when provoked this dragon breathes fire snapping his mighty jaw, rearing up on his hind legs and fluttering his beautiful wings. A gentle dragon indeed! In Fire Dragon the handle moves a crank slider that makes the dragon rear up. His jaw, forelegs and wings are all operated by strings, which tighten when the dragon rears, causing coordinated life-like movement.


Here is the link to the Fire Dragon paper automaton.


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Giant automaton featured on 'The Simpsons'

Giant automaton appear on 'The Simpsons'
Though I missed the show myself, I received a tip that a recent episode of The Simpsons featured Lisa operating a giant automaton to unravel a mystery.

Sure enough, during the episode titled 'Gone, Maggie Gone', Lisa plays an organ that starts in motion a huge automaton that provides clues to the whereabouts of her missing baby sister Maggie.

I don't know how long this link will remain operational, but the automaton can be found at timestamp 9:50 in this video of 'Gone, Maggie Gone' Simpson's episode.

[ Thanks JSB! ]


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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

'Lauren and Jordan' - automaton by Tom Haney

Another enchanting automaton by artist Tom Haney. This one is powered by the wind-up motor from an old 16mm camera. Great idea! The video shows the finished piece in action and a number of nice "in progress" still photographs of the automaton.

See more of Tom Haney's work on his web site: www.tomhaney.com.


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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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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Chameleon Chronicles automaton by Thomas Kuntz

Another beautiful piece by Thomas Kuntz. The mechanical sophistication, multi-disciplinary artistry, attention to detail, and ability to create a complex, but cohesive whole are all things that make me want to apprentice to this man I consider to be a modern master of a automata.

Thomas Kuntz on 'Chameleon Chronicles':
The piece has 16 different functions and is completely mechanically cam and lever driven with the aid of chains pulleys and linkages,additionally (but not shown ) the dragon smokes with incense which is placed in his body through a door in the back . The piece is about three feet all with figures in roughly 1/9 scale.


See more of Thomas Kuntz's automata at Artomic.com.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Wall-mounted automaton of acrobatic cats

Wall-mounted automaton of acrobatic catsHere is a wall-mounted wind-up automaton selling on eBay today. The scene depicts performing acrobat cats. The cat figures are printed paper applied to wood. As an integrated music box plays, a few of the cats perform flips on the high wire, while others below dance.

The listing has additional photographs, including a few of the back of the piece in which you can see the mechanism.

Here's the full eBay listing for the wall-mounted automaton of acrobatic cats.


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Download Mario Brothers paper automaton plans

Free Mario Brothers paper automaton pattern
The good folks over at Nintendo Papercraft have a free download of this animated Mario. When you rotate the lever, Mario jumps up and a coin pops out of the box above him.

Here is the page featuring the download link for the free Paper Mario Automata plans.

[ Thanks Carlo! ]


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