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The Time Machine is considered a classic in the science fiction world. Produced by George Pal and based on the novel written by H.G Wells, the film explores the possibility of actual time travel.
Pal and MGM art director Bill Ferrari designed the time machine used in the film. The inspiration behind said design was a horse-drawn sled. An old barber’s chair was used as the “driver’s” seat, and a large disk was attached to the back that resembled an actual clock.
Once filming ended, the iconic machine remained in studio storage until the early 70s.
MGM eventually held an auction for props and memorabilia that had been featured in their films, including numerous costumes from Gone with the Wind, the legendary ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and the famous time machine. It was ultimately sold to a traveling show at the auction, and for the next few years, it bounced between owners.
In 1976, film historian and collector Bob Burns purchased the time machine from a thrift store in California for one thousand dollars. Having previously discussed his interest in the machine with Pal, he was able to secure the original blueprints used to design it. After contacting Pal about his purchase, Burns restored the machine to repair the visible damage it had suffered.
The time machine was successfully restored and placed within Burns' personal museum. Visitors often came to take pictures sitting in the machine, including George Pal, who up to that point had never stepped foot in it. The time machine went on to be featured in numerous productions thereafter.