Wind up this weekend for an automatons auction

By Steven Nunez, Photojournalist

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  • Scott Skillman, a conservator of automatons and mechanical antiques, does prep work and fine-tuning on the automatons.

  • Skillman tunes cables in need of an adjustment after being shipped across the country.

  • "Magician Automaton was created in Paris somewhere between 1925 and 1930. This particular automaton was featured in a the 1972 mystery film "Sleuth."

  • "Animatronic Capuchin Monkey 'Attaboy' Automaton" was created in Cheshire, United Kingdom by Anatoly Zaya-Ruzo. It is a custom-made, battery-operated animatronic automaton that takes the form of a large capuchin monkey who performs a card trick.

  • "Peasant and 'Baby' Piglet Musical Automaton" was created in Vichy, France, in 1900. The Peasant moves its head, shrugs its upper body and lowers morsels of food toward the piglet's mouth.

  • "Acrobat Clown on Two Chairs Automaton" was made in Paris circa 1910. The clown automaton rises into a handstand on the chair when activated.

  • The automatons will be auctioned for up to thousands of dollars at Potter & Potter Auctions, 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., Saturday, Aug. 24.

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Vintage animatronics will be auctioned off for anywhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars Saturday at a North Center auction house.

North Center’s local auction house Potter & Potter Auctions, 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., will be auctioning off Michael Kams’ collection of over 150 vintage and modern automaton.

An automaton is a self-operating wind-up machine, imitating human figures, that is designed to follow a predetermined sequence of operations, or respond to predetermined instructions. Scott Skillman, a conservator of automatons and mechanical antiques at Potter & Potter, does prep work of the automatons before they are shipped out, and fine-tuning when they arrive in-store. He said the vintage automatons are very delicate and each have their own history. 

The auction is scheduled to follow Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

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