Gifts with an edge: The automata


As the holiday season approaches, we thought you might appreciate some gift suggestions with a twist, appropriate for those on your list who aren't satisfied with the same old, same old.

I admit to an abiding fascination with automata: mechanical devices, usually hand-cranked, that perform often-elaborate movements (think cuckoo clocks on steroids). If you have someone like me on your holiday gift list, and an unlimited budget, check out the offerings of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre.

Among my favorites:

  • Anubis operating a jackhammer

  • Wankel's Self-turning Sausages

  • Honeymoon Bed (yes, it bounces)

  • The Queen's Royal Wave

  • Miniature jousting knights that fit in your palm

  • Guillotine fun

  • Spaghetti eater sitting in bathtub

Lest you think these are toys, note the prices: $500 to $2,000. The Cabaret Mechanical Theatre also tours a collection of much more elaborate automata.