I just found a bunch of automata videos on YouTube, and it's wonderous and mind-boggling. (NB: these take awhile to come in and sometimes only come when you scroll around - sorry; there's just so many!)
In particular, my own obsession is with "mechanical people", that is, clockwork mechanisms that emulate people doing realistic, organic-seeming things - generally called "androids" at the time they were popular. It is stunning to me to see automata which can actually write, or draw, or paint, because they seem so aware of the paper, and their touch is so amazingly delicate. And, that after more than 200 years, they still can be so accurate and beautiful.
There are a series of these French videos (not in English, unfortunately, I wish I understood it better) of these 18th-century automata, which makes me think there's a full-length French documentary out there. If anyone knows what it is, I'd like to know what it is and where I can get it. This one is called The Drawer:
Here is The Writer:
And, in case you were wanting to see (like I did) the insides of the Writer:
This one was made in Paris in 1880 by Vichy, and is unrestored. This comes to us courtesy of the folks at Automatomania, a husband-and-wife enterprise in the UK who restore old automata:
Here is another 18th Century one from somewhere else:
Lastly, here is an amazing animation of a truly amazing wooden robot (from?) the 19th Century - Karakuri Ningyo, in Japanese (thanks to an anonymous reader for the translation) :