Friday, October 21, 2005

Bachot vs. Bretschneider

I was wrong. Bachot probably had nothing to do with Ramelli's Schatzkammer, mechanischer Künste. The "AB" I had noticed was probably for the engraver hired by publisher Henning Grossen den Jüngern, Andreas Bretschneider. The SI has details.

Bretschneider has some history. I came across a blog entry by misteraitch that provides more detail on other work by Bretschneider.
Digital Bachot

I've been revisiting Ramelli. Why was a Catholic so heavily invested in the theatrum machinarum game. The other authors were hard-core Calvinists. Besson was married by John Calvin himself. de Cerceau, Besson's engraver, was famous as a Huguenot architect in a country of Catholics. Rumour has it that Errard was a Protestant and Solomon de Caus certainly was.

The theatrum machinarum format would certainly be attractive to Protestants. Philibert de l'Orme was fingered as a closet Protestant due to his writings and the particular bits of scripture he elected to cite. Given the image-heavy presentation of the machine books, Protestants could contribute some popular works that echoed the Calvinist plan of development without actually outing themselves.

So why did Ramelli contribute his own work? Was he a closet Calvinist? This seems unlikely given his long-standing military and royal service. Did he just want to get some fame for himself? Perhaps.

Regardless, the exceptional case of Ramelli is an interesting one. To revisit his work I've pulled the reprints of both his own work and the German translation. I had never seen plates from the German work until today and they certainly lived up to their reputation: they suck. I can't comment on the copy since I don't read German, certainly not German printed in heavy Gothic type!

The German work is marked by the differences in type-face, tail-pieces, and attention to detail in the plates. Even the frontispiece is different. What I found most remarkable, however, is an initial in the bottom corner of page 31 (a rip-off of Ramelli's Plate 12 for those keeping score). The initial is a large "A" capping a smaller capital "B." Could these be the initials of Ambroise Bachot, the former protege and plagiarizer? I don't know and unfortunately I don't have such easy access to the work of Bachot...

...or so I thought. I just found a digital version of Bachot's Le Gouvernail courtesy of the National Library of France. What other goodies do they have?

Self Help Show

Val Smithson: We’re back! And we’re talking to our guest Mr. Jeff White on how he used eBay to make his first million. As our special guest, he’s willing to share his secrets so you too can make your dreams come true. Jeff, what’s your secret?

Jeff White: Well Val, the product isn’t important. What’s important is the presentation. Who really cares what the actual thing is? None of us are looking for more crap to fill up our living rooms! What we’re looking for is a story in the making; something that we can show our friends.

Val Smithson: Fascinating, fascinating… tell us more.

Jeff White: My first big score on eBay was an old phone. Admittedly, it was a pretty cool phone but I picked it up for a tenner down in Chinatown. The optics of the piece were great: it had a rosewood patina and this fantastic dragon motif. It was a real gung-hay-fat choy-triad-big-trouble-in-little-china type-of-thing. I realized that I could just put it on eBay and hope that somebody upped my price or I could give it a bit of spin. Why write “good phone, great price” when I could amp it up a bit.

Val Smithson: Don’t hold us in suspense. Tell me, what did you write!

Jeff White: I wanted to build some persona and character so I submitted an appropriate description: “You are biding on a rare and wonderful item, if you are interesting in China culture, no miss this good chance to get this items! it will be a good condition to display or collect.”

Val Smithson: And it worked?

Jeff White: Well… I had to work it up a little with some autobiographical content. Really, who could resist a line like this: “I am a fanatically antique collector highing on make friends, I know lots knowledge of antique. my grandfather told me that, our grandsire is a aga in Qing dynasty, collecting antiques are very popular in China then, so my grandsire had largely number of antique since he is a very very eminent aga. and the antiques passesed through generations.”

Val Smithson: Wow!

Jeff White: You get it? It’s the story and not the product that people wanted to buy. I tell people to forget the product and focus on the narrative. How is someone going to describe what you’re selling at a cocktail party? If they’re not, you’ve already lost.

Disaster Recovery Planning

“We backed you up twenty minutes ago.”

Rumbling noises emanating from the handset revealed nothing to the platoon. They clutched their 40-watt phase-plasma rifles in anticipation. Their sergeant continued the call:

“You’re only on our silver service plan. Under the Ts and Cs of the SLA we have until 2300 to have you operational.”


“The risk is too high.”

Emphatic rumbles. The platoon members viewed each other nervously.

“We can make an exception. You’ll be back up in 10-minutes if you’ve got something to trade… MREs? We’re already short selling… Clean water? The market value has gone to shit. Those damn Indians have flooded the market with their reverse osmosis technology.”

The platoon tensed—a deal was coming to a close.

“Just how bio- is your bio-diesel? Can you promise an assay of 70% VOC?”

Just like that, it finished.

“Deal. We’ll arrange the logistics.”

Sarge calmly hung up the handset, savoring the negotiation. He spoke two words and the lab-coated rocket-scientist ran to the controls of their Storage Area Network.

“Saddle Up! We’ve got a debt to collect. Set rifles to kill."

The blast door opened and the disaster recovery team filed into the fetid swamp of downtown New Orleans.