Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vichy Gymnast Automaton Uses Free Object

Of all of the automata I have seen working in person to date, I would have to say that this acrobat by Vichy is among the most impressive. The engineering sophistication is astounding.

From the eBay listing:
Rare Coin-Operated Vichy Automaton Gymnast with Two Chairs, with papier-mache head, brown glass eyes, smiling mouth with painted teeth, arched brows and theatrical make-up, standing between two white-painted chairs on paneled oak base with coin-slot, massive going-barrel motor driving five cams and four-air cartel cylinder movement, in the original spangled gold satin theatrical costume decorated with silver sequins and glass beads, ht. 35 1/2 in....

The sequence begins with the acrobat standing, poised, between the two chairs. At the drop of the coin, he raises the chair in his right hand waist-high, flexing his wrist three times so that hand and chair outstretched. He then lowers the chair to the ground and, with his hand still grasping the top rail for support raises his body into a handstand position, tilting the chair so that only its back two legs are resting on the stage. When his body is at ninety-degrees from the base, he raises the chair into the air, once again flexing from the right wrist so that the chair is horizontal and his entire weight rests in his left hand while simultaneously raising his head as if to survey the crowd, until body and chair are held in perfect alignment, before gracefully lowering himself back to a standing position. As a finale, he stretches his hand to release the chair, raising his free arm in the air, and bowing his head for applause.

It is a huge challenge to make an automaton interact with a free object. This is an amazing example both for its complexity, the size of the object, and the leverage it must exert on the figure. This is Vichy at their best.

The Vichy Gymnast Automaton is on eBay and will be part of the live auction held by Skinner Auctioneers on October 28th, 2007.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a picture showing the acrobat in standing position, go to this link:


(If the picture doesn't show, scroll down to p.6.)


October 24, 2007 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger ethan said...


October 31, 2007 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Dug North said...


I don't have video for this one I am afraid.

This piece sold at the auction for some $110,500 USD.



October 31, 2007 at 4:06 PM  

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