Video of bizarre coin-operated mortuary scene automaton that is to go to auction
Skinner will have its next Auction this Saturday, June 2, 2012 in Marlborough, Massachusetts. In addition to clocks, fossils, scientific instruments and antique weapons, the auction will feature a handful of antique automata. Probably the most interesting of these is this "St. Dennistoun Mortuary" coin-operated automaton.
This remarkable piece is attributed to Leonard Lee and dated to around 1900. Housed in a mahogany cabinet with glass front, the scene depicts a mortuary building, complete with grieving mourners just outside the entrance.
From the Skinner catalog description:
...when a coin is inserted, doors open and the room is lighted revealing four morticians and four poor souls on embalming tables, the morticians move as if busily at work on their grisly task and mourners standing outside bob their heads as if sobbing in grief...
The automaton measures 30 1/2 inches high by 24 inches wide and 17 1/4 inches deep. Its value is estimated to be between $4,000 to 6,000 USD. I would love to know where this thing was placed for coin-operated use! Most likely this was an arcade amusement.
Here are the auction details
Date: June 2, 2012, 10am
May 31, 2012, 12pm - 5pm
June 1, 2012, 12pm - 7pm
June 2, 2012, 8am - 9:30am
Location: 274 Cedar Hill Street, Marlborough, MA