nothing too unusual about that,
even if it was made in 1773, but what makes this swan so unusual is that it moves, it is the product of Belgian inventor John Joseph Merlin who collaborated with London inventor James Cox on the 18th-century marvel, the swan usually resides at the Bowes Museum, on its website, the museum explains that the machine gets its graceful motion from three internal clockwork mechanisms, inside, glass rods rotate when the automaton is wound, a 40-second show follows: The swan swims in a crystal pool, preens, looks about and as a grand finale sees a fish and “eats” it, but now the Silver Swan automaton is leaving its usual home and gliding its way to the Science Museum in London’s new exhibition about robots.
its eventual owners, John and Joséphine Bowes, a pair of 19th-century art collectors, bought it for the then-exorbitant price of £200 in 1872 after they spied it on display at the 1867 Paris International Exhibition, perhaps the swan’s most famous outing is its many trips to the Paris Exhibition—and perhaps its most famous fan was Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens visited Paris in 1867 and like John and Joséphine, he was taken by the creation. He later immortalised the swan in his book The Innocents Abroad, a travel book that caught American audiences’ fancy when it was published two years later,
“I watched a silver swan,” wrote Twain, “which had a living grace about its movements, an a living intelligence in its eyes—watched him swimming around as comfortably and as unconcernedly as if he had been born in a morass instead of a jeweler’s shop.”
watching the video I am still mesmerised by the movements of the bird and water, even more so considering it is over 250 years old and still going strong, absolutely amazing.