Dear MMD, Mike Knudsen's posting mentions that it is a shame no
grandson of one of the great automata makers incorporated a talking
machine in their automata.
Earlier this month a beautiful Jumeau headed automaton by Henri Vichi
sold at auction here in England. The figure was a girl seated upon
a stool (Le Merveilleux), within the stool was a miniature phonograph
mechanism with 3/4-inch cylinder and Vichy and Lioret paper label.
Fortunately, it was in very original condition; unfortunately, because
of this it was not working (full of spider webs, etc.) and what the
cylinder played is a mystery, though music rather than speech is more
The great automata makers did try and move with the times, incorpo-
rating electricity when it became available. And historically the
mechanical production of speech has been a goal since antiquity. The
possibilities of the phonograph must have tempted makers to use them
I am sure that there are automata using this method to produce speech
and I would love to know if anyone knows more about them.