In a modern world that’s dominated by technology, we don’t often think about the ingenuity that went into machines invented before electricity. However, when you really look at them, their complexity and inventiveness is stunning.

Take, for example, the works of John Joseph Merlin, an inventor in the 1700s who hailed from Belgium. His pieces, like his famous “Silver Swan,” combined brilliantly inventive craftsmanship with breathtaking artistry…

John Joseph Merlin was a Belgian inventor in the 18th century who made “automatons,” or statue-like objects that moved and made noise using clockwork. Others made similar creations around that time, but Merlin was hailed for the ornate artistry of his pieces.

merlin-1Wikimedia Commons / Thomas Gainsborough

Perhaps his most famous piece is the Silver Swan. This breathtaking creation uses an intricate array of clockwork and glass rods to make the swan’s movements appear nearly life like. Plus, moving is hardly all it does…

merlin-2Twitter / @w_stanley

Take a look at the 250-year-old Silver Swan’s many mind-blowing features at work!

Wow…I can’t believe something built so long ago can operate so smoothly and gracefully! This is true piece of artistry.

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