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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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Some early machines created by Tim Hunkin

Here is a real treat for you: nearly 10 minutes of video showing large-scale coin-operated machines and automata by the inimitable Tim Hunkin. Hunkin is a not only a great automata-maker, but a cartoonist, engineer, and host of a television series called The Secret Life of Machines.

Learn more about Tim Hunkin
on his web site.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Contest: Make a mechanical vending machine

Contest: Make a mechanical vending machine
The good folks at the The Kugelbahn Blog have announced a competition! The goal is to design and build a coin-operated vending machine that dispenses small German chocolate bars. The deadline for the competition is January 31st, 2010.

Machine Specifications
The apparatus is to be purely mechanical and hand operated. With the input of a 20ct-coin the machine should output one little chocolate bar. The ALDI Moser-Roth chocolate package (found in Germany) contains 50 pieces measuring 5mm x 35mm x 35mm each, which are cheap and stack well (see the picture above). The coin-acceptor unit is to make possible the chocolate output with one 20ct-coin. Other coins with a smaller diameter should fall into the return area.

For all of the competition details visit KugelbahnBlog starts TINKERING COMPETITION for chocolate vending machines.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Skeleton Band Automaton by Wanda Sowry

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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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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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coin Factory Bank - money CAN buy happiness

Coin Factory Bank
Found recently on BoingBoing Gadgets: a mechanical coin bank with some marble-track-like functionality. Great idea!

From the description:
Watch 6 different types of movement, like an engaging belt lift, drop slides, spiral chamber and moving arms, as your coin travels from start to finish.

Also features push-to-open coin drawer with lock, and on/off switch. Simple assembly required.

Check out the Coin Factory Bank.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum
Marvin Yagoda has been collecting vintage coin-operated machines since 1960. Open since 1990, his little museum is located a shopping mall north of Detroit in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The interior is filled with historical and modern arcade machines, sideshow wonders, fortune tellers, automata, and curiosities.

Here is the web site for Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum.

[ Thanks Shel! ]

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Coin-Operated Funeral Parlor Scene Automaton

Undertaker Scene Coin-Operated Automaton
This interesting automaton is marked as being manufactured by J. Dennison.

The scene depicts a man in his coffin at a funeral parlor. When a coin is inserted into the mechanism, a skeleton head appears behind the coffin, the corpse bolts to an upright position and turns his head. Then, the skull disappears and a devil appears. I'm not sure what this humorous and macabre scene means. Thoughts?

Originally, the machine worked with a large English penny, but has been converted to take U.S. coins (I'm not sure which). The listing says the automaton is in working condition.

Take a look at the eBay listing for the Dennison Coin-Operated Funeral Parlor Scene 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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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, April 25, 2008

Mechanisms from The Sands Mechanical Museum

Coin-operated arcade mechanismsThe Sands Mechanical Museum -- restorers of coin operated arcade machines -- contains coin-operated games, pinball machines, horse race games, arcade video games, and shooting games.

They mean it when they say "those things hidden from the player are almost as fascinating as the things visible. The motors, gears, electrical wiring, and gadgets have an appeal all their own."

Indeed, they offer an extensive section called Mechanisms Explained in which they have documented, photographed, animated, and described how a wide range of arcade machine mechanisms work. They offer mechanism explanations for the following:
• Ball bearing baseball "runners"
• Bingo display screen (mechanical)
• Various coin payout devices
• Coin counter units
• Coin rejector workings
• Coin slide mechanisms
• Credit recording unit
• Gear box based hunting game
• Photo booth camera with Geneva mechanism
• An early score keeping unit
The Sands Mechanical Museum is an extremely well documented online mechanical reference source.

Thanks bhaaluu!

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Penny-in-the-Slot Automata & the Working Model

Penny-in-the-Slot Automata and the Working Model Focused on coin-operated automata from the 1860s to the 1970s, this is comprehensive reference to the type of automata one might have found in amusement parks, fairgrounds, and seaside resorts. These machines depict themes such as haunted houses, drunkards, executions, churchyards, fire-fighters, clowns, locomotives, fortune-tellers. Other coin-operated machines used various mechanisms to played music. The book is targeted towards collectors and would-be collectors so it includes a price guide. It also features about 200 color illustrations. Though somewhat expensive, the book is a thorough treatment of this particular genre of automata.

Learn more about Penny-in-the-Slot Automata and the Working Model

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Musee Mecanique: The Zelinsky Collection

The Musee Mecanique is one of the world's largest privately owned collections of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines.

A collection of over 300 items including orchestrions, coin operated pianos, antique slot machines, and animations, small bird boxes and even a steam-powered motorcycle were collected by the late Edward Galland Zelinsky (1922-2004).

The good news is that the majority of this vast private collection is on public display and you can see the machines in action!

If you are visiting the San Francisco area, The Musee Mecanique is located on Pier 45 at the foot of Taylor Street in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. And hey...admission is free.

The Musee Mecanique has an excellent web site providing some history of the collection, an online shop, and many wonderful photos of their attractions.

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