Michael Start General

Thursday 9th April at 4pm bst. Due to the Coronavirus Lockdown. It is our pleasure to share some of our magical world with you. This informal tour will welcome your live comments and requests.

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Automata Live! – Webcast

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We will be presenting a LIVE show this THURSDAY 4pm on Instagram and Facebook. Broadcast from the Attic of our workshop in the Highlands of Scotland. Michael and Maria will present 40 minutes of dramatic entertainment assisted by clockwork performers from the 19th century. Our cameras will be operated by Maud Start and quite possibly there will be sound effects and unexpected drama from her Baby Fred (7 weeks ) and Puppy Nelly. This is our Covid 19 virus Lockdown family group. We also have a large audience of virus resistant ventriloquist dummies to perform for and thousands of our great friends online LIVE! THURSDAY 4pm UK time, USA 8am in LA and 11am in New York. On Instagram click on the face icon at the top of the page. We will be going live at 3.55pm for the 4pm show On Facebook watch live at 4pm Thursday April 2nd and the show will stay on the feed for later viewing if you can’t make it then.



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

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  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 Serenading the Moon c1880 by Gustave Vichy of Paris    


Exploring Automata Event – 19th January

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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.

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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! Email:- “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  


Robots Exhibition Review- Utrecht

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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  


BBC 360º The Strange Dolls that come to Life

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Our Workshop has become an Interactive Experience thanks to the latest technology from the BBC.  Use your mouse to scroll around our workshop and see us working, surrounded by moving Automata. Can you spot the Crocodile and do you know why it’s there?  BBC Reel The Strange Dolls that come to Life     

"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.


Automata – perhaps the definitive history in one article.

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The following article sent to me courtesy of Steve and Jere Ryder from the Morris Museum in New Jersey. Home of the Guiness Collection of Automata. Click on “Read More” for the live link.