Chinese clockwork automaton from 1920 performs magic trick

This five-foot tall, 1920 Chinese automaton performs a lovely little clockwork magic trick: making other clockwork dolls disappear and appear. It's being sold at auction on Oct 28 at Skinner in Bolton, MA -- judging from the video, this looks like the kind of thing I'd love to bid on but could never afford. Link (Thanks, Gary!)


  1. There is a Museum of sorts, in the outskirts of Detroit called “Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum” Its stocked floor to ceiling (literally) with these clockwork automation things. You get a pocket full of quarters and just roam around in amazement, There are some priceless examples there. Its a bit of a fun house too with surprises around every corner, its classic BoingBoing.

  2. Small quibble but it’s a French automaton of a Chinese magician. It is attributed to Phalibois, a 19th century Paris automaton maker.

  3. This is the kind of cool stuff I expect to see at BoingBoing, not weird anti-globalization propaganda from leftist extremists.

  4. It’s by Henry Phalibois who took over his father’s firm in 1893, and sold his stock to Decamps in 1925.

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