Friday, April 16, 2010

Antique musical singing bird music box automaton

Antique musical singing bird music box automaton
Take a look at this beautiful antique singing bird box from the 1920s made by German maker by Karl Griesbaum.

From the eBay description:
The multi-colored, full-feathered bird flutters his wings, turns from side to side, opens and closes his beak, all the while singing his song in full voice. A bird-shaped brass key is included.

Here is the full eBay listing with many more photos of this antique singing bird automaton


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Video about how modern robots relate to karakuri

This video explores how modern Japanese robots share a lineage with ancient mechanical dolls.

[ Thanks Thomas! ]


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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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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Place de la Musique - home of mechanical marvels

Check out this news story about a massive collection of music machines, arcade games, and other mechanical marvels.

From The Sanfilippo Foundation web site:
The Sanfilippo "Place de la Musique" is known worldwide for its magnificent collections of beautifully restored antique music machines, phonographs, arcade and gambling machines, chandeliers, art glass, the world's largest restored theatre pipe organ, the most spectacular European salon carousel in existence, street and tower clocks, steam engines and other functional mechanical antiques, displayed within a breathtaking French Second Empire setting.

Learn more at The Sanfilippo Foundation web site.

[ Thanks Joe! ]


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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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Monday, October 19, 2009

Roullet & Decamps pipe-smoking automaton

Automata that appeared to smoke were a common theme around the turn of the century. Here is a smoking automaton made by the famous firm of Roullet et Decamps.

From the eBay listing:
This ca. 1880 automaton by the quality makers, Roullet & Decamps, is in fully original condition. As described on pages 209-212 and page 321 of the Automata: The Golden Age 1848-1914 by Christian Bailly, the "Black Smoker" is a very rare automaton in this original condition. The "Smoker" has some fiber loss from the jacket and a small area of fiber separation on the left front shirt. When tobacco or a lighted cigarette is placed in the pipe and the mechanism activated, you are entertained by two different aires from a magnificent miniature musical movement.

Body movements include the eyes, lips, head and both arms. When the right arm with pipe is raised to the "Smokers" lips, the tobacco glows as the mechanism "inhales" the smoke. The eyes move in delight, the head moves from right to left, and the lips move (slightly) in anticipation. As the right arm is lowered, smoke billows from the lips as the "smoker" exhales.

Here is the complete listing on eBay for the Roullet & Decamps smoking automaton.


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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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Monday, October 05, 2009

Lambert Brothers smoking musical automaton

Lambert Brothers smoking musical automaton
Here is an interesting antique smoking automaton in working condition currently listed on eBay.

From the eBay description:
He has the following movements: Head moves back and forth and tilts upward. Leg raises and lowers, giving the appearance of crossing, the arm with pipe raises and lowers. the arm with feathered fan raises and lowers. A concealed bellows gives the appearance of inhaling and exhaling smoke. Both the SMOKER mechanism as well as the MUSICAL Automaton mechanism are both in good shape. The SMOKER bellows and Tubes are fine and he will actually "inhale" and "exhale" SMOKE. There is an old repair to the base of the wood stool. A piece of the wood base that covers the mechanism is also missing but a simple fix. A hard to find piece in excellent original condition.

Here is the link to the full eBay listing for this Lambert Brothers smoking musical 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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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Musical Machines & Living Dolls exhibit

Musical Machines & Living Dolls exhibit
The Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey, is home to a large and impressive collection of automata and mechanical music machines. There is a nice review of the exhibit over at the Curious Expeditions blog.

From the blog post about the museum:

The museum does a nice job displaying these fragile, if eerie, machines. Short films show the more delicate automatons in action and a daily demonstration displays some of the less delicate pieces. Beautiful and strange automatons line the walls behind glass cases, in sumptuous dress, with bright faces. Those that do not fit in the gallery are on display in the basement, a storeroom of lonely un-wound figures behind two panes of glass for curious visitors to peer at.

Read the complete review and check out this flickr set of photos from the Morris Museum.


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Roullet & Decamps walking peacock automaton

Roullet & Decamps walking peacock automaton
Here's a cool antique automaton from the famous French automata-makers, Roullet et Decamps. This spring-driven peacock from the turn of the century walks forward while moving its head from side to side. The tail feathers (missing at present) move too.

From the eBay description:
This is a nice "PAON MARCHANT...."WALKING PEACOCK"....MADE BY ROULLET-DECAMPS, PARIS, FRANCE C.1890-1910......The body is made of mache paper it is in regular conditions with details. It doesn't have feathers...... The mechanism is in good conditions and it is clockwork and working, it walks to the front and moves the head from one side to the other side and the tail too...... the measures 6.5 inches large by 8 inches tall.

Here's the full listing with 12 different photographs of this walking peacock automaton.


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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Zilotone musical automaton wind-up toy

Zilotone musical automaton wind-up toy
Here's a tin-toy musician capable of playing three differrent songs. The actions required for the figure to play each song are "recorded" on interchangeable cams (seen behind the figure's feet). Very cool!

From the eBay description:
Even non-collectors find this an enchanting piece. The Zilotone, made by the Wolverine Supply & Manufacturing Co of Pennsylvania, circa 1930, features a little man playing a xylophone. A metal song disc is inserted in the toy, and the clockwork is wound up. When switched on, the musician moves back and forth, hitting the keys with a mallet. Comes with 3 different discs: Yankee Doodle, My Old Kentucky Home, and The Farmer in the Dell. Measures approximately 10" x 8 "x 7", sturdy pressed-steel construction.

Here's the eBay listing for Wolverine Zilotone musical automaton wind-up toy


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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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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Gorgeous singing bird music box automaton

I love the range one finds in automata -- from ingenious paper automata costing a few dollars hand-made on your kitchen table, to lavish antiques costing thousands. Here's one on the older, opulent, and intricate end of the spectrum: a singing bird automaton music box housed in a cigarette case (made in Germany around 1920).

From the eBay listing:
...one of a kind singing bird box in combination with a cigarette case. This sterling silver case has 4 sides that fold open in and give acces to the cigarettes. In the centre of the case behind glass panels is a Griesbaum singing bird movement. By pushing the stop start knob this lid will jump open and a little bird will appear. It will turn from left to right moving its beak and wings and sing a song with a loud and strong voice After it is finished it will return into the box and the lid will automatically close again. The mechanism is spring wound. The complete case is machine worked in combination with unbelievable highly decorative engravings.

The eBay listing features many more photographs and a video clip of the bird in action. Here's the link for this singing bird music box automaton.


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Friday, July 31, 2009

Roullet & Decamps rabbit with maracas automaton

Roullet & Decamps rabbit with maracas automaton
There is something charming in a mechanical rabbit automaton playing the Maracas. This one was made in France circa 1910 the by the famous French manufacturers ROULLET & DECAMPS .

From the eBay description:
When wound, the rabbit hops up and down as he shakes the maracas and his ears go up and down. He is covered with real rabbit fur and has glass eyes. His maracas are replacements that are made of hard plastic just like the original ones were, but they have been painted to simulate the originals (the one original maraca that still remains is included in the auction but is no longer attached to the toy, as you can see it is laying next to the rabbit in the last two photos). Though the replacement maracas are not original to the toy, they do make noise just like the original maracas would have and are just slightly smaller than the originals. The rabbit's fur is quite dingy from age and has been patched up here and there, but he still looks pretty good and is very amusing to watch! The rabbit measures just over 10" tall to the top of his head (ears laying out flat), and his ears are over 4" long!

Here is the full eBay listing with a ton of photos of this Roullet & Decamps rabbit with maracas automaton.


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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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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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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, May 31, 2009

K.G. Griesbaum singing bird automaton video

video
Here is a nice singing bird automaton by K G Griesbaum from Germany.

From the eBay description:
This 12 1/2" tall automaton is in excellent working condition, comes fresh from an estate, with no damages, just a little tarnishing on brass cage, bird sings and moves so beautifully. The on off works perfect (some one put a little magic marker near the switch, nail polish [remover] will take it right off, I don't have any). There are no issues to report at all other than the a little dust that will need to be cleaned.

Here's the full eBay listing with many really large photographs of the K.G. Griesbaum singing bird automaton


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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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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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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Roullet & Decamps - rabbit drummer automaton

Roullet & Decamps rabbit drummer automaton
Here's a charming antique by the famed French automata makers Roullet & Dechamps.

The eBay listing has a long description of the piece and a dozen nice photographs of Roullet & Decamps rabbit drummer automaton.


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Monday, February 16, 2009

'Batteries Not Included!' mechanical toy exhibit

Batteries Not Included! mechanical toy exhibit
To celebrate the history of moving toys, the Fairfield Museum and History Center has a new exhibit called 'Batteries Not Included!'

The exhibit features mechanical toys dating from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century. No plastics here: the toys are made of painted tin, tinplated steel, and cast iron. Show above is a mechanical tin beetle made by E. P. Lehmann of Germany, patent in 1895.

The exhibit opens to the public on Friday, February 2oth, 2009.

Here is where you can get more information on the Batteries Not Included! toy exhibit.


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Friday, January 02, 2009

Antique sailing ships automaton and music box

Antique Sailing Ships Automaton Music Box
The two small wood and paper ships inside this 19th-century automaton have French flags, so it is likely of French make. The base of the scene is hollow so it can house a Swiss music Box and the tiny mechanism that causes the two ships to rock up and down on the painted tissue paper waves. A very charming antique automaton.

Here is the full eBay listing with many more photos of this antique sailing ships automaton and music box


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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Working replica of the Antikythera mechanism

Working replica of the Antikythera mechanism
A British museum curator has built a working replica of the Antikythera mechanism -- a 2,000 year old machine found off the coast of Greece in 1902.

The Antikythera mechanism was used to track the movements of planetary bodies (including their various eccentricities) as well as for determining the dates for Olympic games.

Here's a full article on the working Antikythera reproduction: World's First Computer Rebuilt, Rebooted After 2,000 Years.

For even more information on this device, check out the book called Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer.



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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

More info on antique smoking head automaton

disembodied head automaton
Michael Start of AutomatomaniA has been kind enough to supply some additional information about the smoking head automaton we saw a few days ago.

Michael thinks the head dates from circa. 1865, though Maria thinks it may be as early as 1840. Additional photographs and a scan of the 1882 letter may be seen on his news page. The letter is in the last two photos of the sequence.


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Monday, December 01, 2008

Classic automata film: Princely Toys

Here is some very rare film footage of vintage French automata from the collection of Jack Donovan. The film was shot in 1976.

Thanks to Michael and Maria Start of Automatomania for this video.


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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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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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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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