Secrets of Automata – Out now in UK – USA Release on 1st of July!

Michael Start Uncategorized Leave a Comment

‘A mechanical lightning flash on every page ‘ CLICK HERE for more information & to order

I wanted to let you know that your book arrived yesterday and I’ve been reading it almost non-stop–it’s revelatory (literally and figuratively!). The text is always clear and precise, the images are thrilling and the production of the book, from the creamy, heavy stock paper to the layout to the index and sources for further information, is first-rate all around“. J.F, New York.

Book Cover


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AUTOMATA DEMONSTRATIONS – On the last Saturday of every month ‘The Saturday Salon’ at 3.00pm.

‘The Saturday Salon’ is a talk about automata and our work with close up demonstrations of many rare and entertaining automata. Followed by special access to the museum collection and workshop.   The first in a series of special events for a small audience of 20 people  The cost is £15/ £12 child, advance booking essential.  Call in at the shop or email to book :

An opportunity to see rare antique automata perform right in front of you. From Acrobats to Singing Birds, a variety of surreal mechanical treasures.  Stare into the eyes of a 150 year old  Tiger as he growls…. and then  LEAPS!

As featured on Atlas Obscura

Mechanical Marvels Exhibition

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The shop with an interactive exhibition of automata is open at our 32 High Street premises on Thursday and Friday (10am – 4pm) and Saturdays (10am – 1pm) other times by appointment. The Automata Experience with workshop guided tour is available other days by arrangement.

Automata Magazine

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The only magazine about Automata in the world. Published online with optional print editions 6 times a year. The articles are written by makers and specialists who cover every aspect of making and collecting automata. Below is the article on The House of Automata in the latest edition. I have added the Index page at the end to show the full range of articles. Online subscription is very affordable and a rewarding way to join the worldwide community of Automatists. Click here for the Automata Magazine Website.

Little Tich ‘Giant’ of the Music Hall

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Little Tich came to us in a very sad and bedraggled state. He had been stored in a damp garage for many years and was dead on his feet at a precarious angle. The mechanism was rusted and broken, the original suit and hat were almost completely eaten by moth and his famous big boots no longer fit for the stage.

You can see the trails and tribulations of his dramatic restoration on Salvage Hunters – The Restorers Series 5 Episode 4 First on Wednesday 20th April on Quest TV UK and stream on Discovery Plus UK.

The famous Little Tich refuses to go on stage in this state
Much happier after his time on the bench at The House of Automata

AUTOMATA on ‘Salvage Hunters – The Restorers’

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Salvage Hunters – The Restorers,  Series 5 Wednesdays 9pm on Quest TV,  channel 12 and on Discovery Plus.

Michael and Maria are on TV with two spectacularly eventful automata restorations. 

Episode 2 Wednesday 6th April 2022 we tackle a large clockwork Acrobat Automaton who comes to us in a terrible condition.  After a painstaking restoration he is returned to his former glory, looking spectacular whilst performing his incredible one handed handstand atop his ladder,  towering above Drew Pritchard!

Episode 4 Wednesday 20th April 2022. This time we are challenged to give Little Tich, a ‘huge’ star of the Music Hall back his mojo. With some extremely tricky restoration needed to his mechanism and clothing, this Automaton tests our skills, our patience and our marriage!

Don’t worry if you miss it on Wednesday, you will find it repeated throughout the week and then just when you least expect it… in perpetuity!

Automata – 19th Century Home Entertainment

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Join us at David Parr House for an evening of sights and sounds from a clockwork age!

Day & timeThursday 3rd March, 7pm
CostTickets via a donation
VenueVirtually – via Zoom – a link will be sent to your email address prior to the event

Maria and Michael Start run The House of Automata from the Highlands of Scotland. As restorers and dealers in antique automata for over 30 years, they are the European specialists in these enchanting and surreal objects.

As well as an insight into how they were used and some secrets of restoration, this presentation will introduce some highlights from their large personal collection of automata. Demonstrations of mechanical singing birds, musicians and impressive acrobats, to pieces featured in film and TV productions such as HUGO and the terrifying monkey from The Woman in Black.

There will also be insights into how working together as a family team, much like the 19th Century makers in Paris, makes caring for and restoring these objects of wonder possible.


The talk lasts approximately one hour.

This is an online talk via Zoom. Please click on the following link to book your tickets – David Parr House.

Numbers for the talk are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

A link for the event will be sent via email on the day of the event. All our events are UK time and our events are live and personal, so will not be recorded.

All money raised from our talks goes towards maintaining David Parr House – thank you for supporting us.

Live Instagram Show

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LIVE WEBCAST only on INSTAGRAM Tuesday 22nd June at 9pm UK time (gmt+1). 

THE FEMALE AUTOMATON a 20 minute Cabaret featuring Mechanical Women automata

U.K 21:00

New York 16:00

Los Angeles 13:00

Your Badge ❤️ support for this interactive demonstration of rare automata is much appreciated but entirely optional!

Magician & Drumming Bear – The Restorers on Quest TV

keiller General

Restoration of a 130 year old Magician automaton features in episode 10 of series 3 and is described as a “world class” restoration. The Magician was made by Phalibois of Paris and features a clown with a disappearing head!

Episode 2 details our restoration of a spectacular 4 foot high  Drumming Bear.
The bear came as a box of bits from a previous failed restoration. The body had been covered in a layer of fibre glass which needed to be painstakingly chipped off. The fur was alive with insects and the drum was missing.  Its a remarkable automaton and is the size of  small person.
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