Thursday, December 06, 2012

The finest bird song of 1890 produced by lovely brass mechanism

Image of brass mechanism

Our friend Michael Start over at The House of Automata created this lovely video of a a singing bird mechanism. During the course of the bird's song, we get a 360 degree view of this ingenious device.

According to his description, the mechanism was made about 120 years ago in Paris. It is most likely the work of Bontems, a distinguished maker of bird automata.

An expert at horology and automata, Start restored the mechanism, though it was rusted and seized when he received. It is very common that the fine leather used for the bellows dries, cracks, and leaks on these singing bird mechanisms. He notes with surprise that the bellows were in good condition.

If you are curious about what the rest of a singing bird mechanism looks like, check out this post featuring a video on How Singing Birds are Made.

[ Thanks Mauricio! ]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted this for a few members of the American Birding Association, for your song ID. A couple answers were, "European Robin" and "European Robin with all the modulation removed?".

December 8, 2012 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Fascinating! It hadn't occurred to me that it might be a particular birdsong. Thanks for doing the research and sharing it!

December 9, 2012 at 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never heard a European Robin, but the machine seems to be producing a series of bird songs, not just one. I only recognize the song of the cardinal among them but since this song plays every 20 seconds, I assume the series is a pattern that repeats every 20 seconds.

January 2, 2014 at 9:26 AM  

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