Automaton Ship from the British Museum

An automaton ship from 1585 that was used to announce the beginning of banquets

An automaton ship from 1585 that was used to announce the beginning of banquets

This fabulous little machine was is an automaton that was used to announce the beginning of banquets. It has 3 different mechanisms inside, one to run the clock, one to move the people and play the music, and one to propel it forward on wheels. Sadly none of these work anymore. When it works, first music would start to pour from the ship, drumming on deck and a procession across the deck. Then the ship would push itself across the table and finally fire the front cannon, triggering the other guns. Presumably the fuse the front cannon used needed to be replaced each time it was used. Here are some more close-ups of parts of the ship!

*drumroll please*

The deck of the ship

I love the detail on this ship! The workmanship is simply beautiful…it is definitely one of those objects that my fingers want to touch! Thank goodness for the glass.

British Museum Ship Automaton 3Anyone recognize the crest there?

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