Member from 1773 to 1801
In 1773 three monumental events happened within the Adventure Club of Europe.
- James Cook became the first man to reach the Antarctic Circle.
- Charles Messier discovers the spiral galaxy M51, or whirlpool galaxy, as it is also known.
- Ursula Weber became the first female member of the Adventure Club of Europe
On 13th December 1773, the ACE met for an annual general meeting in Paris under the chairmanship of the honourable Ludovic de Vaucansé. In his invitation letter he said:
We all felt the same goose bumps when the scientific successes of Cook and Messier shook the world earlier this year.”
The use of the term ‘goose bumps’ was something of a personal joke for the cunning inventor, Ludovic de Vaucansé. He was well known for his invention; a mechanical goose consisting of 400 moving parts and gears, fluttering, chattering, drinking water, and even digesting grains in an internal chemical reaction – the non-absent animal excreta occasionally causing surprise to their owners.
Inspired by her passion in the art of clockwork and fascination with the miracles of robotics, Vaucansé invited the young Swiss woman, and daughter of a watchmaker, Ursula Weber to the meeting. Her father’s watchmaking company had a branch in Paris.
She brought along a simple doll. It was about 70cm in height with movable arms, legs and eyes. On the evening before the meeting I saw it sitting quietly in the dark on the stage. A shiver ran over me as it sat there in the moonlight and I could swear, please do not laugh at me, it winked at me”
wrote Vaucansé in 1773 in a letter to his wife.
Ursula Weber presented her doll, which lifted its arm by itself and turned the page of a book. The members of the Adventure Club of Europe were already cheering, but Weber asked them to step closer. Her doll’s performance was not yet finished she explained and handed it a piece of paper.
I had expected a few polka dots and stripes from this doll and her young inventor but as I approached this automatic marvel drew the emblem of the Adventure Club of Europe with a filigree feather”, Vaucansé wrote, describing the scene.
Later that very same day, Ursula Weber signed the membership application and got the financial support to create more android dolls.
We consider many things in this world incomprehensible. Nevertheless, I think that the word ‘incomprehensible’ is exactly the driving force that drives us researchers, explorers and inventors to make incomprehensible marvels a reality.Today, my dear, I have seen a machine I thought to be impossible in my not-so-modest career as a watchmaker and lo and behold, there it is. Is it not wonderful what is possible?”
he wrote, signing off the letter to his wife.
A year later, in 1774, the three androids “the Writer, the Organist and the Draughtsman” were unveiled to the public. The Writer could write any text of 40 characters, the Organist played five pieces and the Draughtsman could draw four different pictures. Ursula Weber went after this on a lengthy pilgrimage throughout Europe.
In the possession of the Adventure Club of Europe:
- A prototype of the drawing machine that can paint the ACE logo