Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Simon Schaffer on the History of Mechancial Clocks

Standing beside a reconstructed wooden clock, historian Simon Schaffer discusses the development of the first purely mechanical clocks in Europe in the late 1200s and early 1300s. The clocks in question used an escapement known as the Verge and Foliot, which can be seen above and below the bell to his left.

Read what Simon Schaffer has to say about automata in his article on "Enlightenment Automata" in the book The Sciences in Enlightened Europe.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Vintage Speaking Book Uses Integrated Bellows

Here is a antique children's story book with integrated animal sounds. Presumably, the sounds accompany the story.

The nine unique noises are produced by small mechanisms attached to small air bellows and paper cones.The book also attempts the to make the sounds "Mama" and "Papa". Tricky, and very clever, indeed.

This is another gem from the folks at

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Automaton by Vichy - Clockwork Mechanism Inside

This is the repaired inner mechanism of a Vichy automaton made in France in 1875. The complete automaton depicts a lady who breathes, closes her eyes, turns her head, fans herself, and lifts her glasses to her eyes.

You can learn more about Vichy and the other famous French automaton makers from the late 19th century and early 20th century from the Automata: The Golden Age 1848-1914.

Thanks to the experts at AutomatomaniA for this wonderful video. AutomatomaniA is the UK's only specialist automata restoration company.

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