Maybe more fanatic cineastes than me already knew this, but here's how I learned about it.
Went to see “Hugo,” in 3D. (Albany area readers: as of this writing, it's still on the screen at the Spectrum8) A wonderful film, based on the uncategorizable book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” which I then borrowed from the library,
along with a dvd of “Melies The Magician.”
Follow this trail of imagination, and oh, the places you'll go!
You'll discover the world of 19th century automata, which, by the way, is not a place that gives you food for coins. And although the automaton in "Hugo" is fictional, there is a real one, even more intricate, on display at the Franklin Institute, which in fact, inspired the book in the first place. That landing page is here, complete with amazing videos.