Éamonn McManus comments on my “Comic machines” posting:
I do believe that’s Professor Branestawm in the pancake-making machine illustration [by W. Heath Robinson].
So it is.
Professor Branestawm is a series of thirteen books written by the English author Norman Hunter. Written over a 50 year period, between 1933 and 1983, the children’s books feature as protagonist the eponymous inventor, Professor Theophilus Branestawm, who is depicted throughout the books as the archetypal absent-minded professor. The name “Branestawm” is a pun, as a homophone of the word “brainstorm”.
The first two books in the series were originally published in the 1930s, with the other 11 books published much later from 1970, during Hunter’s retirement.
Professor Branestawm is always at work in his “Inventory” creating bizarre inventions, all of which either malfunction or work in unanticipated ways, and which lead him into incredible adventures, often accompanied by his friend Colonel Dedshott of the Catapult Cavaliers, and his housekeeper Mrs Flittersnoop. He lives in Great Pagwell, which is apparently surrounded by other Pagwells (Little Pagwell, Pagwell Heights, Pagwell Gardens etc.). In “The Professor Borrows a Book”, he manages to lose fourteen different copies of the same book from fourteen different public libraries, and has to cycle frantically between fourteen different Pagwells to renew his books to avoid being fined.
… The first book featuring Professor Branestawm was The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm, first published in 1933 and illustrated by W. Heath Robinson [and now once again in print]. Heath Robinson was famous for his rickety contraptions, and the illustrations were a perfect foil to the outlandish plots of these short stories, each picture typically featuring the professor’s unfeasibly large forehead. The original book contained a section called seventy-six illustrations by W. Heath Robinson, each with evocative titles such as A telescope of his own invention or With nothing on at all but a big smile (referring to a picture of an extra specially young professor).
A Branestawm machine (drawn by Robinson), alas without the accompanying text: