The Department of Awesome Automata seldom gets an opportunity to show off, but today they’re pulling out all the stops with this breathtaking Silver Swan automaton. Housed at the Bowes Museum in North East England, this exquisite 18th century clockwork bird was designed by designed and built by John Joseph Merlin along with London inventor James Cox.
The life-size swan automaton swims in a stream made of moving glass rods along with small silver fish. When it’s clockwork is wound up, a music box plays as the swan turns its head from side to side, preening her silver feathers, eventually spotting a fish in the water and then bending down to catch it.
In effort to preserve this extraordinary creation, the Silver Swan is only operated once each day. But we can watch it as many times as we like thanks to this video:
Top photo by Ryan Gangan