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Christopher Pinchbeck

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Christopher Pinchbeck
Bornc. 1670
DiedNovember 18, 1732 (age 61)
Known forAutomata

Christopher Pinchbeck (c. 1670 - 1732) was a London clockmaker and maker of musical Automata. He was born in England. Pinchbeck made musical automata that played tunes and imitated birds. He also sold self-playing organs, to save the expense of organists in country churches.


He was a partner with Isaac Fawkes. Many of his automata, including "Moving Pictures", were used in Fawkes' shows. Pinchbeck was known to have built the "Apple Tree" illusion which was performed by Fawkes and was a precursor of the Orange Tree illusion.

In the 1700's, he invented the alloy now called "Pinchbeck" as a cheap substitute for gold. "Pinchbeck" has become almost a general term for any jewelery made out of substitutes for gold.

Christopher Pinchbeck, Jr., followed his father as a master craftsman.

Another descendant of Christopher Pinchbeck was William Frederick Pinchbeck. William wrote the book The Expositor in 1805. One of the highlights of the book is the explanation of the secret of the learned pig.

He was inducted into the Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame and Magic Museum.


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  • Excerpt from Modern Enchantments: The Cultural Power of Secular Magic, By Simon During (2002)