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.  

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!  

Satyr Head potter 1 jpg

Satyr Head (Magicians Clockwork Prop) at Auction

Michael Start General

A Satyr Head Magicians prop made by us about 10 years ago and performed regularly on stage in the USA is coming up for sale at Potter & Potter auction in the USA on the 16th of December. It has traditional brass clockwork mechanism and produces cards from the mouth and the top of the head. We are not the sellers but  I hope it does well!    


The House of Automata – The Movie!

Michael Start General

A short film about The House of Automata by acclaimed Edinburgh photographer Euan Myles and ace film maker Jonnie Lewis (Trainspotting 2). They capture the magic and appeal of automata in this 6minute documentary film set in our North of Scotland workshop. (I never thought I would be skipping through the woods in the sunset clutching Bontems Singing birdcages!). Click HERE to view the film on vimeo.  

Musical Chair Acrobat c.1875

It’s Alive! Exhibition of Automata – Edinburgh

Michael Start General

Now finished. Stats for Exhibition: 60,000 Visitors to the exhibition and 1000 watching our live demo’s! IT’S ALIVE! MECHANICAL MARVELS ARE MOVING IN TO THE MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, in a free exhibition from the House of Automata (22 June – 18 September 2017).   It’s Alive! from the House of Automata will provide the first free, interactive and atmospheric display of these incredible examples of craftsmanship in Edinburgh with  special Automata performances throughout July, August & September. Open from the 22nd of June, this unique collection of mechanical marvels will include an amazing magician in faded silks, who keeps us guessing as he runs through his cups-and-balls routine; a dazzling acrobat based on a famous Moulin Rouge performer; and Heba, a beautiful harpist whose graceful hands strum her long-lost instrument. Fine automata such as these were made to entertain the fashionable elite of Paris in the late 1800s, and bring together the arts of the clockmaker, sculptor and couturier. ‘It’s Alive! Automata Performances Throughout July, August & September visitors will be able to see even more of the machines come to life, as Michael and Maria give demonstrations of the machines in action. These performances are not to be missed. Most Fridays at 2.00pm and Saturdays at 11.30am – check Edinburgh museum website for details.

Phantasmagoria poster

Phantasmagoria Show – August 2016

Admin General

An adventure in projection with many moving and mechanical slides projected in a grand drawing room. The animations date from 1820 and  accompaniment is by epic piano playing, the gramophone, music box and Theremin . This takes place in the Victorian seaside resort of Nairn (favoured by Charlie Chaplin) as part of theNairn Book and Arts Festival. Wednesday 31st August 2016 7pm and 8.30pm.  

New Website

Michael Start General

The Classic House of Automata website, much loved and rich in content,  has now become a bit of a museum piece. The new site aims to be less of a cluttered victorian mantelpiece and should be easier to navigate and explore. Gone is that feeling of 'falling down a rabbit hole' and becoming disorientated in a mechanical wonderland  as soon as you click to enter. Gone is the secretly embedded 18th century mechanical singing bird song composed by Haydn (probably). On the principle that 'less is more' we are going to pack in so much 'less' you will wonder how we ever squeezed in 'more'. If you still want to explore the classic site it is available here The House of Automata Many Thanks to Tony Boyce for crafting and maintaining the old site for a decade, and welcome to John Keiller who made the new site. Your views on the new site are most welcome. Email

AutomataCon – The First

Admin General

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Summer 2016 – Small Exhibition of Automata video

Michael Start General

Exhibition of Automata, ‘Mechanical Wonders’ an interactive and exciting event on show until the 24th September 2016 at The Nairn Museum in Scotland. After a busy and successful summer the exhibition has now finished. Many thanks for the great feedback and capacity audiences for all of the talks and demos accompanying the exhibition. AUTOMATA EXHIBITION VIDEO  A reference film to capture the exhibits for this small exhibition. The video is at 2X speed for a youtube audience! If you would like to know more about our Travelling Automata exhibition, contact us and we will do our best to help, we can tailor to suit, we have exhibited in a variety of locations from Art Galleries to Festival Tents, so if conditions are right we can exhibit some crowd pleasing, rare and impressive automata that attract publicity easily.