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Watch a Video of a Macabre Automaton: St. Dennistoun Mortuary

“St. Dennistoun Mortuary” is a coin-operated automaton, attributed to John Dennison, 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.

This automaton will be offered as Lot 207 in the Skinner Science Technology & Clocks auction in Marlborough, Massachusetts on June 2, 2012. The auction estimate for the macabre piece is $4,000-6,000.


4 thoughts on “Watch a Video of a Macabre Automaton: St. Dennistoun Mortuary

  1. The women’s hats, hair and coats suggest not 1900, but closer to late teens or twenties. Women weren’t bobbing their hair that early. Women wore hats with big brims. Cloches are more Roaring Twenties. Surprised their experts didn’t pick up on that. Unless there’s something I’m missing.

    • I’m no expert on this history of women’s fashion, but I had the same thought. According to Wikipedia, the cloche bell-shaped hat, was invented in 1908 and became especially popular during the 1920s. It continued to be commonly seen until the 1930s.

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