When the cardboard parts in the booklet are cut out and assembled the result is an amusing ‘Mexican Peck’ when the handle is turned. The Mexican Peck is defined as the rippling effect produced when successive waves of chickens peck at the harsh baked earth in search of morsels of food. Copyright Rob Ives/Flying Pig 1999-2001.

The design is apparently based on a Spanish vintage tin plate clockwork toy from 1933 called ‘Estudiant’ (Student). When the student is wound up he rushes along in an erratic manner carrying his suitcases. John Davenport has fond boyhood memories of an earlier version of this toy belonging to his grandparents at Ivydene, the Davenport family home in Kent.

To get this man to perform, you need to hold him as you would a pair of scissors and move the legs in and out. As you do this, the man repeatedly raises his hat and smiles broadly. There is a sample label attached to the figure with the number 133/2. The style of this suggests that the item was made in Germany, a country well known for its tin toys.

This is a very cleverly designed tinplate figure. You need to hold the figure as you would a pair of scissors and move the legs in and out. As you do this the figure first picks up an egg from the basket and then lifts its arm up to its mouth. The egg is placed in the figure’s mouth as it opens its eyes. As the figure drops its now empty arm, the egg vanishes from its mouth as its eyes close again. The movements then repeat. The illustrations include one of the back of the figure, revealing that the mechanism is both clever and simple.

Made by Timberkits, UK. The automaton is a wooden kit for home assembly. Each time the handle is turned the dragon lunges forward and opens its mouth. This was a gift to John and Anne Davenport from Cambridge magician Tony Middleton in 2021. Tony assembled and painted the kit, making use of modelling clay to make the shape more dragon-like.

This was a gift from Cambridge magician and family friend Tony Middleton to John and Anne Davenport in 2015. Tony made the magician from a Timberkits kit consisting of pre-cut pieces of plain wood. Timber Kits Ltd are based in Wales. The colourful decoration and many embellishments are down to Tony’s imagination and skill. As the handle is turned, the magician looks down and covers the object on the table with his hands, turning the object from a rabbit, to a teapot, to a frog, to an apple, before repeating the cycle.

As you turn the handle, the rider gallops along on a winged horse delivering AMBROSIA U LIKE in his satchel. John Davenport assembled this from flat printed sheets which had to be cut out.

A special edition miniature version of Pierre Mayer’s magic automata. The quick change artist Valerie disappears behind her parasol, and her dress changes from red to black and back again. This was a gift from John & Anne Davenport to Tony Middleton for his 70th birthday. It also recognised all the help Tony had been giving on restoring automata in the Davenport Collection. It is included on this website with Tony’s permission.

This is a wonderful battery operated novelty for those with a sense of humour. Flick the switch on the top of the box to the ON position. Immediately the box opens and a wooden finger comes out to push the switch back to the OFF position, before vanishing back into the box. A box that doesn’t want to be opened – how useless is that? The box, made out of laser cut wood, comes in kit form.