They are sometimes comical, sometimes impressive, and sometimes startlingly realistic. Originally made by talented watchmakers as luxury decorative items, automatons remain some of the most intriguing and remarkable collectibles from the past. Products made between 1900 and 1940 are more commonly available than earlier models, making them especially popular. These creations vary considerably from one to the next, though many have unique characteristics thanks to their hand-built origins. Some feature doll-like people or caricatures of comedians and politicians, while others have subjects like birds in cages. These items are typically comprised of a metal structure with ceramic and cloth, and some are capable of performing delicate operations like writing or drawing. There are also automaton music boxes that play delicate melodies while they operate. Owners typically wind the machines in the same way a watch is wound, and some popular items are coin-operated automatons. Pressing a coin into a slot on the machine brings it to life, making it an interactive experience. eBay has listings for all types of these machines, including antique automatons. These may be in their original condition, or they may be refurbished. Whether you buy one for a collection, home decoration, or simply to satisfy curiosity, an automaton presents a remarkable piece of the past.