The Silver Swan at the Bowes Museum
Mention of Tipu's Tiger reminded me of the beautiful silver swan they have on display at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham.
Another lifesize automaton but this time a fabulous musical one. As the music plays the swan preens himself then lifts his head and reaches down to the 'water' below and hooks out a little silver fish before swallowing it. The agility in the swan's neck is quite incredible.
The swan is said to date from the late 1700's and is recorded as being one of the star attractions at the Mechanical Museum of James Cox, London, in approx 1774. The internal mechanism (three separate pieces clockwork) was created by a famous inventor of the period, John Joseph Merlin.
To find out more go to:
http://www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk/ and you will find a page dedicated to the swan plus a short video on the restoration of the piece in 2008.