Museum of Oxford Automaton

This donation box was commissioned by Oxford Town Council to tie in with their Museum exhibit about William White, a Victorian Civil Engineer who designed the first female only bathing facility for Oxford, a great deal of the City's plumbing, and much else besides.

The case had to be made in darkly stained oak in order to fit the Victorian aesthetic. The top half of the case was made by the sculptor Laurence Tindall, originally to house and display the maquette for his Resurrection 2000 sculpture, which can be seen at The bottom half, which contains the moneybox and the cam mechanism that drives the automaton, was made by Hawker Joinery. The mechanism and linkages were designed for me by the affable automaton genius Matt Smith of

There is a wealth of period detail in the models within the case, such as the plans on the desk, which are reproduced from William White's original work. There are also a lot of little in-jokes to do with the Museum; some of these are somewhat anachronistic, such as the leather-bound Morris maintenance manual and the History Of Radiohead. The signed pin-up of Sarah Cooper, wife of the marmalade magnate Frank, is actually based on a contemporary advertisement. When a pound coin is inserted into the box, the light in his office comes on, and Mr White rises and doffs his hat in gratitude.