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Dead medium: Clockwork wall animation -- "living pictures"
From: (Bill Wallace)
Source(s): *Mechanical Toys*, by Athelstan and Kathleen Spilhaus, Random House, 1989, $7.99 ISBN 0-517-0560-4

"Animated or 'living' pictures made by Schoenhut, a Philadelphia toy maker, adorned Victorian walls. In one entitled A Good Joke (ca 1890) two clerics enjoying their wine move their arms and jaws while rocking with laughter. Concealed behind the lithograph is an array of clockwork, string belts, cardboard cams, and wire levers with counterbalancing weights. The scene is animated by a belt-driven cam from a slow-moving shaft in the clockwork while the highest speed axle carries a fast-moving fan that acts as a governor.

"Other patterns for living pictures were provided on flat, lithographed printed sheets to be cut out and animated according to the pleasure of the assemblor."

Also intriguing, but brief, is the description of the serinette, a miniature hand-operated barrel organ "used by 18th century ladies to teach canaries to sing." The illusionist Houdin allegedly built an automaton of a young lady winding a serinette, followed by her mechnical bird singing. Dead media within dead media.