1882 – King-Foo (King Fu) – Unknown (Chinese)
The Maitland Mercury 3 Jun 1882 p5
AN AUTOMATON SWINDLE.
A strange prosecution for fraud has just been concluded at Vienna, the defendant being the proprietor of an automaton known as "King-Foo." The whole Court, from Kaiser Francis Joseph to the young princesses, has been delighted with King-Foo's marvellous performances, and the journals have been loud in their praise of the wonderful ingenuity and perfection of the mechanism. A morose sceptic refused to believe that there had been the least expenditure of mechanical genius in the construction of the automaton, and gave emphatic expression to his conviction that King-Foo had "human brains somewhere or other inside of him." The small size of the automaton was pointed out as a sufficient refutation of the sceptical prejudice ; but the objector replied that there was "plenty of room for a dwarf in the thing's interior." He took means to assure himself of the truth of his conjecture, and got into an unpleasant quarrel with King-Foo's proprietor. An exceedingly small youth, seventeen years of age, was then found to be concealed within the body of King-Foo, and the steel, brass, wheels, and springs were added for pure deception. The owner has been prosecuted as a cheat. His defence is most edifying. Assuming a tone and air of injured innocence, he plaintively asked, "Whom have I cheated? Can the people of Vienna be such fools as to believe that a piece of clockwork can talk Chinese, Persian, German, French, and English ? that it can tell whether Suez Canal shares will rise or fall ? that it can predict the exact day on which a rich uncle will will die ?" The accused has been acquitted.
The Automatic Man,
From the New York Tribune. 8 June, 1907
The death at Carlsbad of Theodor Rosenfeld reminds the Neue Freie Presse of the fact that he was the man who some years ago set all Vienna talking about King Fu, the "automatic man" This "most wonderful piece of mechanism ever produced by human hands," was in the form of a Chinese giant, posed on a pedestal. In the latter there was a complicated clockwork, which was wound up by Rosenfeld at the beginning of each performance. Then people in the audience would ask questions and the mechanical man would write the answers on strips of paper. The performances were so clever that King Fu and his master were invited to the imperial residence, where they mystified all who saw them. The contrivance was similar to the one shown in Vienna 100 years before by Wolfgang von Kempelen, only his was a chess playing Turk. In both cases a dwarf confederate, and not the clockwork, did the trick.