This was once on display in Davenport’s retail shop. The demon on the unicycle rides up and down on the wire, as a result of one end of the wire slowly moving up and down driven by an electric motor. It was renovated by engineer and magician Tony Middleton of Cambridge with help from John Davenport in 2014/2015. Tony Middleton is on the right of the photograph and Roy Davenport on the left.
When a penny is placed in the slot, the rope rises up in the air and a small boy climbs up the rope, before vanishing at the top. It operates on the principle of Pepper’s Ghost. This machine, part of the Davenport Collection, was in extremely poor condition. It was renovated by engineer and magician Tony Middleton of Cambridge, with help from John Davenport and other friends in 2015. The body of the cabinet has a label saying Samson Novelty Co Ltd, London. They were manufacturers of coin operated machines. Tony Middleton is on the right of the photograph and Roy Davenport on the left.
This automaton in the Davenport Collection was in very poor condition and Tony Middleton repaired it in 2016. The automaton does not, and according to Betty Davenport never did, make a laughing noise. Nevertheless, when switched on, the sailor rocks from side to side as though something very funny has got to him. Davenports used to hire out this sailor to TV and theatre companies. In the photograph Roy Davenport is on the left and Tony Middleton on the right.
This timber kit is assembled with adhesive. As the handle is turned, the ship rides up and down on the waves and the aeroplane circles ahead. For such a simple construction the movement is very impressive.
The figure raises its arms to reveal a bird cage, then lowers its arms to cover the cage with the box, and when its arms are raised again the bird cage has vanished. The cycle then repeats. This was one of the ORBICUS range of ready to assemble press-out models. The clever design allows the Chinaman to be assembled without the need for glue. Manufactured and distributed by Norwin International, Letchworth Garden City. Copyright Derek Read 1993.
After winding the yellow key on the left, when a coin is placed in the bowl on the right and the button is pressed, the snake charmer bends forward and the snake rises out of the basket. At the same time the coin drops into the bank. Two batteries in the base should also activate some music, but unfortunately this is not working on this example. Made in plastic by Everlast Toys, Hong Kong. Copyright 1998 Everlast.
The Davenport Collection contained an electrically operated window figure in poor condition. The figure was of a man which nodded its head and moved its arms up and down. In 2014-2015 Cambridge magician and engineer Tony Middleton converted the figure so that it produced a rabbit out of a hat each time it nodded its head and raised its arms. One of the photographs shows Tony Middleton with the part-finished automaton.
Made by Timberkits, UK. The automaton is a wooden kit for home assembly. Each time the handle is turned the pelican crouches down and opens its mouth to reveal a fish. Assembled by John Davenport.
Copyright Keith Newstead. Produced exclusively for National Gallery Company Limited, and available from The National Gallery, London.
This is a reproduction of a Victorian Sand Toy. The clown performs acrobatic feats, powered by a mill turned by hand. Tobar Limited, Norfolk, England.