I imagine this was a one-off, scratch-built machine. Clever and, as far as I know, unique mechanism for a working model, using the coin's weight to tilt a series of see-saws attached to mechanical linkages to lift the various ghouls and electrical contacts to illuminate the windows. Unusual theme for a charity box, if that's what it is.
I bought this. I think the reason it didnt show up well on eBay was the very long and odd description they gave. It had been donated to the charity listing it to sell. I had intended to pay more for it and they told me when I collected that they were disappointed it hadn't made more, so I made an additional donation. I like it very much and it does seem to be a donation box.
The haunted house theme is unusual and one of the scenes in the windows quite gruesome as a body drops and hangs by the neck. The movements of the 4 characters are all different , well thought out and made, and it works!
Hi all, thank you for adding me.
I originally found this automaton in a cupboard in a house clearance that I did whilst working for a charity, and I took it home and spent ages getting it working.
It originally came from a house in Rugby, Warwickshire.
Unfortunately, the lady knew very little about it, so it is a mystery.
Another in the long line of projects of mine waiting to proceed. I'm sure it was a charity box, the label has been worn away long ago and is illegible, just the old 1d near the chimney indicating where to insert coin. It works properly on average once in every dozen coins put in and usually gets stuck as it relies entirely on gravity and a lot of luck for the (same) penny to slide down and tilt all the see saw devices. Equally the variations in the slightly different weights of coin makes it stop, as does friction and every other thing that can happen. When it does work it drops through so quickly that you tend to miss the figures move, as each window should light in turn as the coin progresses.
So I think it was probably retired early and stored away rather than scrap it.
In line with my collection of working models I am going to incorporate it into a cabinet and make it into a working model based on a haunted house theme. I will leave the integrity of the original piece and mechanism intact but will operate the various gruesome scenes in a different way by way of rods coming up from a set of cams below. In this way I can slow down the whole sequence so it views better. The penny will then enter through the cabinet coin slot and the cams will be motorized.
The house certainly looks great and when incorporated into a 'spooky' surrounding and landscape will look the part I think.
The goal for me is that of re-purposing the original piece so it works reliably and people can enjoy seeing and playing it in the arcade.
I like the idea of machines restored and working again for the public to play on and enjoy,rather than never seeing the light of day in private collections or storage, since it was on a primary school trip that I first saw an old penny working model machine and got hooked.