Some ran on wires, others ran through tubes, and as a small boy, these things made me aware that sometimes, rarely, Heath Robinson gadgets might work.
At the age of 8, I tried making Meccano versions of the run-on-wires models, without success. I knew about the pneumatic versions, but the Meccano sets had inconvenient holes, so I gave up.
In what follows, the pics are more detailed than they appear here: click on them to see them in all their glory.
As it happens, I wrote about such things in my Not Your Usual Clever Ideas, available on Kindle (it includes shoe guns, sharkproof suits and pile drivers powered by gunpowder and the 'rowing bike' seen on the left), but here's the detail on the stranger ways that things were moved by air pressure.
In 1868, all eyes were upon the new device, the pneumatic telegraph, which was going to revolutionise the world by allowing one to send actual documents hurtling to their destination. This was the pneumatic telegraph, which was all the rage in the 1860s.