Dug North sez, "The book titled 'Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata; has been available in a printed version for a while, but is now available as a PDF. The book is offered for free from LEAFpdx, but I am sure donations would be welcome."
The Sette of Odd Volumes published two fantastic books in the early 1890s. The Sette was a club of book collectors and eccentric personalities in London. It was founded by the famed book dealer Bernard Quaritch in 1878. He collected members for his club much like he did rare editons: each had an expertise in some unusual specialty.
William Manning was a club member who gave an after dinner talk on his recollections of the great magician Robert-Houdin. When Manning was a young boy he met the great magician and befriended Robert-Houdin's sons. His 'recollections' about Robert-Houdin were later published as a small book. Reading it today, over a hundred years after the speech was originally given, one is still struck by how forward thinking Robert-Houdin was and how down to earth. He developed many famous magic acts that are still performed today. Originally trained as a clockmaker, Robert-Houdin built all his own automata and magic props. He experimented with electricity and even wired his house with clocks and alarms in the 1860s which must have seemed very magical indeed. Manning captures the spirit of his admired friend. His words make the magician seem very contemporary and even more remarkable.
OK, nobody tell my kid about ~renegadecow's "Applejack's Apple Harvest" My Little Pony automata. Nine days left on eBay, bids open at $200:
No pony appreciates a good days work more than Applejack. She loves the hard-earned life so much that she doesn't even look like she's working at all! Of course, not everybody is gifted with the talent for apple bucking. It's also an untold mystery as to how she can send each and every single apple into a bushel with nary a one touching the ground. But I think her ever faithful, canine companion Winona has rooted that secret out. That or she's on the lookout for bad apples.
The figures, stand, tree and bushel are carved out of Philippine mahogany while the gears and apples are made out of Narra hardwood. They're painted in enamel and protected by clear flat lacquer. Applejack stands at 5 1/8" tall (with her hat down) while the entire complete piece measures 11 3/4" high, 9 1/2" long, and 3 1/2" wide. It took 161 hours to complete.
Dug North sez, "I don't know what to say other than this mechanical wooden hand is awesome. The articulating hand and arm were made by the talented automatist Keith Newstead. There is nothing in the video description to suggest what form this will ultimately take. The fact that the video is titled 'Prototype' leads me to believe that we are waiting for something very, very good."