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Dead medium: The Toy Artist drawing automaton
From: (Dan Howland)

Source(s): Scientific American, October 17, 1896

(((Dan Howland remarks: In a nutshell, this toy was capable of storing simple line drawings as replacable dual cams. The engraving shows a seated doll in a clown suit, with his right arm holding a pencil lead to an easel. Behind him, on the base, is a crank.)))

"The mechanical toy shown in the accompanying illustration is one of the most original and ingenious things of its kind that have recently appeared. Within the base upon which the 'artist' and his easel are placed, and immediately below the figure, is a small pinion which is operated by a worm at the end of the crankshaft which is seen projecting through the side of the base. The pinion, which rotates in a horizontal plane, is provided with a couple of pins upon which is placed one of the sets of removable cams which accompany the toy.

"The cams are double, being provided with two separate peripheral edges, and each edge is engaged by the short arm of a pair of levers, as shown in the engraving. (((To picture the double cam, imagine an Oreo with small chunks broken at irregular intervals from the cookie's edges.))) The upper lever attaches at the end of its long arm to a vertical shaft, which passes up through the body of the figure, and is pivotally attached to its right arm at the shoulder.

"By this means the rotation of the cam causes a vertical up and down movement of the arm and the drawing pencil which it carries. The lower cam operates a system of levers by which the arm is given a series of right and left movements. It is evident that by giving the proper relative contours to the two edges of the cam, the arm, with the pencil which it carries, may be made to trace any desired line upon the paper, either vertical or horizontal, by the action of the first or second cam, or diagonal or curved, by the joint operation of the two. Each of the double cams which are provided with the toy will cause the figure to draw some well-known object."


"The model from which our engraving was made produced an easily recognized likeness of the Emperor William of Germany (((the device is made in Germany))) and a drawing which bore a strong resemblance to a familiar barndoor fowl."

Dan Howland (
Journal of Ride Theory, P.O. Box 2044,
Portland, OR 97208-2044