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). 

Order from The House of Automata and your signed copy will include a free ‘bonus drawing’ insert and a Ticket for the Museum.   Based on thirty years of opening up antique automata  and recording what’s inside. The lavishly illustrated book is arranged in categories that cover nearly every action performed by an automaton since antiquity, Michael reveals for the first time many previously unrecorded mechanisms, he groups the movements into actions of ‘The Human Body’,  ‘Animals & Birds’, ‘ The Natural World’ and other activities common for automata. These automata were 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 and concluding with modern examples by innovative 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

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