Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"St. Dennistoun Mortuary" Coin-Operated Automaton, Attributed to Leonard Lee, c. 1900, Skinner Auctioneers, June 2, 2012

All I have to say is WOW: pictured above are scenes from a coin-operated automaton (which I am guessing is from the 1920s or 30s, rather than 1900 as the auctioneers claim) in which, after a coin is inserted, "doors open and the room is lighted revealing four morticians and four poor souls on embalming tables, the morticians move as if busily at work on their grisly task and mourners standing outside bob their heads as if sobbing in grief."

This object is for sale (!!!) and is estimated to go for between $4,000-$6,000 as part of an upcoming Science, Technology & Clocks auction taking place on June 2, 2012 10:00AM. Full lot description from the Skinner Auctioneers website follows:

Lot 207
"St. Dennistoun Mortuary" Coin-Operated Automaton, attributed to Leonard Lee, c. 1900, the mahogany cabinet and glazed viewing area displays a Greek Revival mortuary building with double doors and grieving mourners out front, when a coin is inserted, doors open and the room is lighted revealing four morticians and four poor souls on embalming tables, the morticians move as if busily at work on their grisly task and mourners standing outside bob their heads as if sobbing in grief, ht. 30 1/2, wd. 24, dp. 17 1/4 in.

Estimate $4,000-6,000

Brass coin plate stamped J. Dennison Leeds NO. 80
You can find out more and see the other lots--which include other automatons including an amazing automaton last supper!--by clicking here. My only plea, if any of you Morbid Anatomy readers purchase this, please (please!) invite me over to see it in action! I would certainly buy it myself if I could afford it. If the Musée Mécanique is still actively collecting, this would make a wonderful addition to their rich collection of coin-op toys depicting deaths by such means as guillotine, French execution, and English execution; yes, really. More on that here.

Thanks so much to Morbid Anatomy readers Nanette Rod and Jane Fuller for bringing this amazing object to my attention! All images sourced from the auctioneer website; click on images to see larger versions.

7 comments:

jenn said...

The womens' dresses definitely look like late 20s/30s. What an amazing piece!

Skinner Inc. said...

Thank you for the description of the automaton being offered at auction on Saturday. We've posted a video of the amazing automaton in action: www.skinnerinc.com/blog/2012/05/watch-a-video-of-a-macabre-automaton-st-dennistoun-mortuary.php.

Anonymous said...

Amazing piece - thanks for bringing it to your reader's attention. My only objection is to the dating of this automaton... 1900 seems too early given the '20s style clothing of the mourners.

Unknown said...

Dear all,
Greetings. St. Dennistoun Mortuary Coin-Operated Automaton sold for $11,000. Or so the Skinner website says. Best, especially to Nanette Rod, who also alerted Morbidanatomy to the Skinner sale. Sincerely, Jane

Adrian said...

Looks like it went for $13,000!

LuciteTreasures.com said...

Thats an amazing piece! The details are remarkable

Bill Shields said...

This is beautiful. It reminds me of the days when I used to work in a mortuary, down in Denver. Those were the nice, quiet days.