The ‘St Dennistoun Mortuary’ is a macabre coin-operated automaton made around 1900. When a coin is inserted, the doors open to reveal morticians working on several dead bodies laid out on embalming tables.
A nodding policeman observes the corpses in the middle, which are labelled “Believed murdered” and “Found stabbed.” Outside the mortuary doors, two mourners dab their eyes with grief.
The mortuary was made by John Dennison and his daughters, who ran a business creating ghoulish penny slot machines and creepy mechanical fortune tellers to amuse Blackpool tourists from the end of the 19th century. (Dream job?) His other machines included grisly scenes like executions, haunted houses, high-profile crimes, a dying child and drunkard in a graveyard.
Forget boring piggy banks; from now on I’m only putting my spare coins into demented automatons.
Sold at Skinner Auction house in 2012 for just over $13,000 USD. You can see a video of the automaton in action here.
For more strange and fascinating things, please subscribe to The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things below, or follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I solemnly swear to make your life a little bit weirder.
What do you think the figures are made out of?
Painted wood I reckon?