Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More Reposted Mechanical Curiosities from Dug North

I love Dug North's Blog. In case you don't already follow it, here are some noteworthy recent posts - for lovers of clocks and mechanical automata.

Here's a beautiful and artistic piece from Levi van Veluw

An analog clock in a digital world:

This eye-boggling piece was recently featured in Clocks Magazine.

Another book for your library...

The mechanical clock, at least in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with its rational design and regular running, demonstrated an orderliness lacking in almost every aspect of life at that time. The clock came to offer an explanation for the mysterious workings of the cosmos: living creatures were in fact automata, and the universe itself was an enormous clockwork...

Another great clockwork sculpture:

There is truly some fascinating and beautiful stuff out there.  Follow this blog and Dug's blog for constant updates on the world of clockwork art!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Musical Mystery House

Dug North has a writeup on the Musical Mystery House in Wiscasset, Maine


It's an old video, but it features some whistling automata like the bird cage, bird box and whistling man that are available through North Coast Imports!

Address for the Musical Mystery House:
Musical Wonder House 16-18 High Street
Wiscasset, ME 04578

Memorial Day Weekend through Halloween
Monday through Saturday, from 10AM - 5PM and Sunday Noon - 5 PM
Web site: http://www.musicalwonderhouse.com/

Monkey Automaton On a Black Forest Clock

Here's a really interesting piece, again from Dug North's inestimable blog.

The monkey is shaving!  It's really a complicated movement, similar to a Black Forest dumpling eater (or rat eater) but more colorful.  I wish there were pictures of the clock too!

Friday, July 27, 2012


We're about to introduce an exciting NEW model.  Stay tuned for more info.  AND HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

SOLID walnut board, made in the U.S.A. with German mechanism.  We're really excited to introduce this new model from Sternreiter.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Strasburg Astronomical Clock

It turns out there is an antique replica (PDF) in Sydney! Made in 1887.

[via Kugelbahn]

Puccini Opera Came From a Music Box?

There's a fantastic article in the New York Times about the Morris Museum in New Jersey.  A musicologist draws connections between an 1877 Swiss music box there with Puccini's Madam Butterfly.

Even now few visitors spend much time in the room where the Swiss music boxes are displayed. Yet, being a musicologist, I lingered there alone last January as my children ran ahead. I kept listening to one box in particular, a harmoniphone from around 1877, equipped with a reed organ and able to play six Chinese tunes from a cylinder. 
Confused at first, I suddenly realized that I had stumbled on the key to a musicological mystery many decades old. Scholars have long known that Puccini used Chinese tunes in his opera “Turandot” (set in China and left incomplete on Puccini’s death in 1924). But they have been puzzled by the origins of two “Japanese” tunes in his “Madama Butterfly” (set in Japan and first performed in 1904). What I had found were Chinese sources for two major themes in “Butterfly” and a surprising connection between that opera and “Turandot.” 
Was it possible that Puccini had heard this very box in Italy and that it provided crucial inspiration for “Madama Butterfly”?
The article is a fascinating romp of detective work on an antique mechanical music box.