Darlings, if you liked the grim, coffin-shaped automated cigarette dispenser we featured a few weeks ago, you might just fall in love with a turn-of-the-century, coin-operated, automated mortuary. Believed to be created around 1900 by John Dennison, this morbid automaton was auctioned last year by Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers:
“St. Dennistoun Mortuary” 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.”
Although details about John Dennison are limited, he is known to automata enthusiasts as a pioneer of coin-operated automatons and amusement machines, exhibiting his unique hand-built devices in Leeds as early as 1875. Fewer than 30 Dennison automatons are thought to remain, featuring such salacious themes as fairies and fortune tellers, haunted houses and torture chambers, and this rather fabulous funeral parlor with mortician, rising skull and devil. Check out The Under the Pier Show for video and photos of haunted house automatons by Dennison and others, and peruse the gallery below for more photos of Dennison’s intricate coin-operated mortuary.
(All mortuary photos and video by Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers)