Caterpillar automaton from 1820

Dug North sez, "The Ethiopian Caterpillar is an exquisite automaton from 1820 going to auction at Sotheby's November. Attributed to Henri Maillardet -- creator of the famous drawing automaton -- only six automaton caterpillars are known to exist. Its value is estimated to be somewhere between $350,000 and $450,000."

Ethiopian Caterpillar automaton by Maillardet (Thanks, Dug North!)



  1. Normally I don’t like these steampunky faux-Victorian machines that don’t really do anything that you guys tend to post, but for whatever reason, maybe because it both actually works and was actually designed in 1820, this one is pretty cool.

  2. Hmmm. Perhaps someone can explain to me the difference between “automaton” and “wind-up toy.”

    (I’m not suggesting that wind-up toys from 1820 are not totally cool.)

    1. $300K. A toy from 1820 would be cool too, but wouldn’t fetch so much money. Just calling it an “automaton” increases the price.

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