The Baron’s Automata Collection

The Baron Grisleigh’s fascination with occult matters may have germinated within the delight his childhood hobbies of puppetry and automata brought him.  Certainly the two interests overlapped in his mind, with the latter playing a strong role in the former.  The allure of machinery and augury intersected in the automaton designed to provide knowledge or ability from beyond human awareness.  A large painting of Wolfgang von Kempelen’s Turk defeating Napoleon Bonaparte at chess was kept prominently displayed in the small library in his personal chambers, where also may be found several smaller examples of 18th and 19th century mechanistry, some singing birds, a miniscule trumpeter, and a sphere of jet cunningly windowed so as to reveal a brief written message when rotated.  Perhaps most notable here is a set of talking heads attributed to Friedrich von Knauss.  Larger objects of mechanistry stand elsewhere about the manor.

GFT ghostly shortBased on location and the commentary of visitors to the End, his most prized  seems to have been the fortune teller, a device whose presence alone was sufficient to create great discomfort among many. Lady Benvolia Throkmorton, in a missive writ in the Autumn of 1929 to her uncle Darl Knevynton, a minor Prussian baronet, described it thusly: “A preterpluperfectly  tramontane contrivance, the proximity of which I shall eschew most assiduously henceforth.  Were I less sanguine on the substance of my own sanity, I might be swayed to question my senses. I aver a raw gelidity untempered by roaring hearth or wool fills the chamber in which the apparatus resides.  In operation it emanates a spectral keening that pierces one’s very soul and moves in manner most unnatural. No sepulchral vision has heretofore harrowed my sleep as the ethereal echoes of this ungodly instrument of necromancy.”

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