There's a lot of the "WOW" factor in today's androids. We're amazed and totally impressed by the lifelike robotic creations like Ishiguro's doppelganger or David Hanson's realistic robot clones.
But, from time to time we like to remind ourselves that the roots of their work and accomplishments go back for centuries. Man's desire, passion, to create automated life forms in our own image isn't anything new.
For example, in France during the last half of the 19th century some surprising automata - lifelike mechanical devices - were created. In many ways some of them rival the best that modern science has been able to come up with. Thankfully, those magical robotic creations are being lovely restored and shared with the world by Michael and Maria Start.
With over fifteen years of experience and unique craftsmanship and know-how, the Starts specialize in restoring classic automata from their workshop in Findhorn, Scotland.
One of their most impressive restorations is "Nancy", a larger than life stage automaton that was crafted out of papier mache. Not only does Nancy knit, her eyes and eyelids move, her heat turns and nods, and her body language is so realistic that it appears that she is actually breathing.
They have been kind enough to post extensive photo galleries that include images showing the restoration of many rare items, and a few original creations, like the birds head chocolates box. There are no prices posted on their website, though they do have a "Shop" page and actively encourage inquiries. Our guess is that most of their work is sold to collectors or museums.
Automatomania - Be sure to check out the Workshop, Galleries, and Video pages for some amazing robotic automata.