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Mechanical singing bird box automata of the 1700s

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While googling about mechanical inventions like Mark Galt’s walking mechanical humans, I happened upon this lovely 1890 piece of restored gears and springs, with the original bellows: a singing bird mechanism. From Colossal:

It’s believed the machine was built 120 years ago in Paris by Blaise Bontems, a well-known maker of bird automata and was recently refurbished by Michael Start over at The House of Automata.

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Singing bird boxes were extremely popular in Europe starting from the 18th century, first as a toy for a privileged few and then later as a more affordable item. Watch this video from The British Clockmaker Ray Bates to see how the bird fit in with the box’s innerworkings: 

And below, HD video of a singing bird box made by Pierre Jaquet-Droz and Jean-Frédéric Leschot, Switzerland circa 1785:

Watch more automata videos on this site.

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