Michael Start General

The latest for sale, restorations, and film of amazing automata in action, in pieces and in the workshop. Ranging from an exquisite treasure like the Gold Fairy Ship to the rather dubious Tin Devil and Nun. Scroll up on the comments to see the text description.


The Moon

Michael Start General


Our man on the moon was there 80 years before Apollo’s and now he is on loan to the blockbuster MOON exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in London.

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Man’s landing on the Moon, the exhibition charts the cultural and scientific story of our relationship with the Moon, featuring over 180 objects, including artefacts from NASA’s Apollo 11 mission.

Pierrot Moon Lambert 1
Pierrot Serenading the Moon c1880 by Gustave Vichy of Paris




Exploring Automata Event – 19th January

Michael Start General

Two presentations of wonderful automata in action in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland. Machines pre-dating Robots and made to entertain and amaze you! See 19th century mechanical moving figures performing for you,  singing birds, acrobats and magicians. The springs will be let fly by The House of Automata with an introduction from  Dr Tacye Phillipson, Head of Science at the Museum.

EXPLORING AUTOMATA at the National Museum of Scotland

Book in advance- Limited places.


Automata - 10

Talks and Demo’s

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Over 20 years we have been asked to talk about Automata many times and have developed a popular demonstration and a  range of well received talks that can be tailored to suit a variety of audiences and interest levels.

Most popular are:

1 – Demonstration showing 16 antique automata and singing birds in action describing them and how they work. 35-40 minutes.

2 - Its Alive! – How automata  eat, drink, dance and sing (and other useful functions!).  45 mins

3 – Automata – A History of mechanical life. 45 mins

4 – Automata on Stage and Screen – from Fritz Langs ‘Metropolis’ to ‘Scorseses Hugo’.


The talks can emphasise the  technical aspects of automata, exploring the design and mechanical intricacies for an academic audience or  fast paced visual entertainment with leaping tigers and magical moving figures for a general or special needs audience.

We have the knowledge and enthusiasm to bring automata to life in all situations!


The talk was a sell out and as someone who is passionate about his subject he gave a fascinating talk, moreover without a note” -  Heath Robinson Museum Chairman to the Crafts Council, London 2018

Automata - 10



Robots Exhibition Review- Utrecht

Michael Start General

A great new exhibition of Robots and Automata ‘Robots Love Music’ that has gathered rare exhibits from around the world is reviewed by Michael Start of The House of Automata in the latest edition of The Music Box Journal.

The exhibition runs until the 3rd of March 2019.

To see the full article with photos click the Read More button and then follow the link which will work from there.

Click here for the Robots Utrecht Review


"Tell me about Automata" say's Mr Moon.

Automata Evening – London – SOLD OUT

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All tickets for this event are now Sold Out.

The master of creative crazy contraptions Heath Robinson has a museum devoted to him and his work. It is located in Pinner on the outskirts of London (Pinner tube station) and Michael Start of The House of Automata is delighted to present a talk and demonstration on the 16th of August at 6.30pm. The event will include performances of rare antique automata and an insight into the weird & wonderful world of the objects and their owners, its going to be fab!  The event is followed by an opportunity to enjoy the Crafts Councils excellent automata exhibition ‘A Curious Turn’ ……. featuring modern automata.    –     For more information:  Heath Robinson Museum

"Tell me about Automata" say's Mr Moon.

“Tell me about Automata” say’s Mr Moon.


Spring (repair) is here

Michael Start General

On a large automaton of Little Tich, the 19th century music hall performer. The large mainspring was found to have its hole torn out from the barrel hooking. This is a fairly common repair, a result of ‘overwinding’.

The secret to the repair is the process of softening the steel prior to punching and shaping a new hole.

The new end will be curved to fit the shape of the barrel and then the spring cleaned and greased before fitting.

Softening the end

The original hole is torn out so begin by softening the end, note the heat protection for the main coils.


Punch a small hole or dimple


Cut off and reshape tail of the spring. It can also help to reshape the curve to aid hooking.


Automatacon 2018

Michael Start General

We are excited to be attending the 2018 Automata Convention in Morristown, USA in May 18th-20th. The schedule is now live and on the Sunday at 1pm we will be presenting a talk on the importance of Automata in Films and the Media.

There is a full and varied Schedule of fascinating presentations by experts and enthusiasts from around the world, all talking on our favourite subject … you got it… Automata!

Check the website for more details and see you in Morristown in May!