I always said, if I were filthy rich, I would be a collector of only one kind of item - automaton booths from carnivals (like Zoltar) and vintage automatons. They are fascinating moving pieces of art with amazing mechanics inside.
If you are in the New Jersey area, you are in for a treat this March - the AutoMataCon being done in conjunction with the Morris Museum. The event runs from March 18th to 20th.
The goal of the convention is to gather people from around the world to share ideas, build relationships, and grow interest in automata new and old. The convention will include a variety of private and public programming, including: social gatherings, museum tours, panel discussions, live demonstrations, workshops, maker-presentations, and an exhibition. There will also be a premier showing of the extremely rare 1928 film: “Le Monde des Automates” in the museum’s Bickford Theatre. Originally created as a typical period silent film using hand-driven cameras, an accompanying sound track was added shortly thereafter, making this one of the first Swiss-made sound films. About 25-30 minutes in length, it was intended to accompany Alfred Chapuis & Eduard Gélis’ foundational 2 volume book by same title, and documents some extremely rare automata plus a truly unique mechanical musical instrument, the “Violinista” by Boreau & Aubry (1918-22), in action. A fabulous historical document!
To get in the mood for this event, I'd suggest you watch two movies "Dead Silence" and "The Lady in Black." They will definitely get you in the mood!
I hope everyone has a good time at the event. This sounds like a dream to me!