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Unobtainable for many years, this book has been reissued and is the first devoted to the “golden age” of French automata. The author, a collector and restorer of these charming and magical objects for more than 30 years, has taken an objective look at 19th century automata and their makers with an introductory chapter setting the Paris scene.

From archives and family documents, there follows the little-known histories of seven leading makers, including Roullet et Decamps, Vichy, Phalibois and Lambert from the mid-’80s, until the decline in production following WW1.

Names, dates and chronologies give an important reference framework.
In the automaton, which so combines the exuberance of the artist and the craftsmanship of the artisan, sculpture, painting, music, costume and mechanics all play a part, and here 150 colour photographs showcase that art.

Further sections include restoration, functions and mechanisms and, importantly, facsimile catalogues of Vichy/Triboulet, Roullet et Decamps and Lambert, plus a fine bibliography and an index of automata.