Larry Bieza wrote to give an update on an automaton fortune teller project his team has been working on. Their recreation of three Mills Verbal Fortune tellers from the turn-of-the-century is complete. The video above tells you all about the machine and the process of reproducing it.
Bieza and his team studied the original extensively to create this faithful reproduction.
The fortune teller's voice comes from two independent cylinder players -- just like on the original. These play six inch long cylindrical records with a mechanism that allows them to play one fortune at a time. The fortunes themselves were created from the original surviving Mills Novelty cylinder.
The video includes many interior shots of this extraordinary build. No expense was spared in the making of these reproductions. Measuring about 8 feet tall and weighting in at some 300 pounds, details include quarter-sawn oak, red silk, period playing cards, hand-strung silver plated beads, spun brass ornaments, flat-key locks, and knob-and-tube wiring.
Production of the original coin operated machines was probably less then 100. Only one is known to exist. Back in 2011, the magician David Copperfield offered to buy the one remaining original for a reported $2,000,000. Unlike the one remaining original, the reproductions are fully functional, making them just as rare. This is the last of three reproductions for sale.
Should you wish to purchase this remarkable reproduction, drop me a line using my contact form or send an email to coinoplibrary [at]comcast [dot] net and tell them you heard about it from The Automata Blog.