Monday, November 7, 2016

The Ethiopian Caterpillar

A big H/T to BW!   :o)





The Ethiopian Caterpillar

Thought to date back as far as 1820, this incredible pre-electronic mechanical robot was made by Swiss watchmaker Henri Maillardet for sale to aristocratic Chinese buyers. The rare gold, enamel, jewel and pearl-set automaton mimics the gracious undulating caterpillar’s crawl with a clockwork powered mechanism which drives a pair of gilt-metal knurled wheels.
The body is realistically designed to represent a caterpillar comprising eleven jointed ring segments, framed by seed pearls, and decorated with translucent red enamel over an engine-turned ground, studded overall with gold-set rubies, turquoise, emeralds,and diamonds. The underside is decorated with champlev√© black enamel. When the automaton movement is engaged, the caterpillar crawls realistically, its body moving up and down simulating the undulations of a caterpillar by means of a set of gilt-metal knurled wheels. The automata work is composed of a barrel, cam and two leavers all working together to create the crawling motion.
Born 1745, Maillardet was a Swiss mechanician who worked in London producing clocks and other mechanisms, including various automata, including a famous set depicting magicians and others which could write in French and English. When one was presented to Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute in 1928 it was of unknown origin; but once restored to working order, the robot itself provided the answer by penning the words ‘written by the automaton of Maillardet’.



The Ethiopian Caterpillar from HODINKEE on Vimeo.

6 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks again, BW! I love automata! :o)

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  2. Great find, BW. That is cath cool and beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. Isn't it? Would love to see the innards!

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  3. Beautiful.
    As usual, the Caterpillar does all the work and the Butterfly gets the revues.

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  4. Beautiful.
    As usual, the Caterpillar does all the work and the Butterfly gets the revues.

    ReplyDelete