If this Silver Swan automaton were invented yesterday, it would have surprised me for its realism, and the fact that it’s made of glass and silver. When I learnt it’s from the 18th century, it completely blew me away.

Made at natural scale, the Silver Swan is power by clockwork. It sits on moving glass rods and silver leaves that give the illusion of flowing water. The swan floats, moving naturally and catching a fish that passes by the stream. I just can’t believe this is a purely mechanical device from two centuries ago. I guess I would have to go to the Bowes Museum—in Barnard Castle, Teesdale, County Durham, England—to check it out myself. [MEINE KLEINE FABRIK via Dark Roasted Blend]