Secrets of Automata


‘Secrets of Automata – Ingenious designs for mechanical life’ The new book by Michael Start of The House of Automata.

Crowood Press,Hardback, 176 pages, 75,000 words and 338 images, 22 x 1.7 x 28cm,  £40 including post in UK (USA & EU at cost, see below). 

Your signed copy will include a free ‘bonus drawing’ insert and  free entry to The House of Automata Exhibition.   The information in the book is based on thirty years of opening up antique automata  and recording what’s inside. Lavishly illustrated the book is arranged in categories that cover nearly every action performed by an automaton since antiquity, revealing for the first time many previously unrecorded mechanisms.  The  movements are grouped into actions of ‘The Human Body’,  ‘Animals & Birds’, ‘ The Natural World’ and other activities common for automata. These automata were originally designed by craftsmen who regarded their designs as secrets and devoted their lives to making automata come alive. Each section features an eclectic mix of movements, such as performing ‘Magic’ or ‘Dancing’ with each subject explained and illustrated by photographs and drawings, concluding with modern examples by the very best makers of today.

As well as a written record of these lost movements ‘Secrets of Automata’ is a ‘How it is done’ exposé of the principle behind each movement, offering the modern maker a proven mechanical concept to adapt for their own automaton, or simply to satisfy the curiosity of those who see an automaton ‘writing a poem’ or ‘breathing’ and ask themselves “How did it do that?.

Postage available to USA (+£24) and Europe (+15). Other destinations please email


Paul Spooner:”It’s a treat!  Full of stuff I hadn’t thought of and stuff I thought I had but someone else had thought of a century or so before”

Tom Haney: I cannot recommend this new book enough. Great photos, great explanations. I’m not a big book reader but this is right up my alley.

Automata Magazine‘ “If you are a practicing automatist, a beginner new to the field, or just someone with an interest in automata and other mechanical things, this book is a must have”.  Full review in the picture in the gallery above.

Thomas Kuntz: “Since its release I have seen it motivate more and more people into building automata”. Full text in the last picture in the gallery above





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