Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cleaning Out the Pipes... or at Least the Shelves

I've been dragging around a whole pile of books on a variety of topics. I keep thinking I'll get to them but I never do. It's time to take them all back to the library; but not before they get a final review. Since Claire has Finn for the morning, I finally have my opportunity.

The frist work is Leona Rostenberg's English Publishers in the Graphic Arts 1599-1700.

There are some interesting tidbits in here but if focusses primarily on architectural and artistic books, and maps. It doesn't necessarily answer my quandry about the lack of an English theatrum machinarum. Regardless, the appendix/bibliography is interesting. Some works I sould investigate include:

  • Serlio's The first book of architecture published by Peake in 1611.

  • Blum's Booke of five collvmnes of architecture (Peake) in 1635.

  • Palladio's The first book of architecture (Richards) in 1663.

  • Blum's Description of the five orders of architecture (Overton) in 1668.

  • Francini's A nevv book on architecture wherein its represented forty figures of gates and arches triumphant (Pricke) in 1669.

  • For that matter, there's a whole pile of work published by Pricke...

Okay. It seems that I'll have to hold on to this particular work. Hopefully, the trend won't continue.

Stephen P. Timoshenko's History of the Strength of Materials (1953)

This one never made it to the shelf. It just sat on the stairs for a week with some photocopies of an article about the content of Galileo's library. Most of the work considers more recent developments. Although his treatment of L'Ecole Polytechnique deserves some more consideration, particularly in light of my new interest in Errard and his depiction of bridges. So I have to hold on to this one too.

David T. Pottinger's The French Book Trade in the Ancien Regime 1500-1791 (1958)

This one has been on my shelf for a very long time. I remember sitting on the couch at the cottage on a Sunday morning and making margin notes so it's time to give it up. Overall, this is a tremendous overview of the publishing conditions during the Ancien Regime and stands as a very good partner to the work of Adrian Johns. It should be noted that while Pottinger deals with questions of “what”, Johns extends the discussion into “why.”

  • “From our figures, for instance, we cannot find out what was being read in any decade though we can find out what was being written and published. We cannot deduce anything regarding the purchasers of these books though we do learn a good deal about the status of the authors.” 4

  • All the population not including Clergy or nobility made up the Third Estate. The bourgeoisie were the most interesting element for the ancien regime. They had a strong work ething and were thrifty. They had a respect for learning. Was Besson a member of the Third Estate?

  • For those getting an education, they typically went to college at 16, had four years of lating and two of philosophy. Then on to university for Theology.

  • Some figures on the use of Latin: 1560-1569, 273 books total, 73 in Latin. Sixteenth century overall: 34.2% in Latin. Seventeenth century: 25.3%. Eighteenth century: 5.2%.

  • During the wars of religion, brochures were more popular than books.

  • “The Academies meanwhile had been further developing the strong traditions of scientific writing. In the sixteenth century no scientist was a specialist in a single field, much less in only a section of a field, but the beginning of concentration are evident in the work of Pare', Palissy, and Alciat.” 38

  • Breakdown of page size: Sixteenth century: f.13.14%,q.21.9%,o.52.5%,12.4.63%,other.7.83%; Seventeenth century: 10.16%, 32.35%, 27.64%, 28.64%, 1.21%; Eighteenth century: 5%, 19.38%, 27.77%, 46.46%, 1.39%

  • General trend indicates demand shifting from weight academic tomes to lighter popular works.

  • An author typically sold his work outright to a publisher. Royalty arrangements were uncommon. Ramelli maintained his plates (the artifact) and his IP. Besson's was sold off.

  • Unless an author was also a member of the printer's guild, he could not sell his own works. A law of 16 June 1618 was emphatic on this point.

  • All copy submitted to a printer was written in ink with quills of goose, swan, or raven.

  • Compositors had difficulty with erasures, interlineations, marginal interpolations, and corrections. A law of 1539, renewed in 1571 and 1572, required authors to submit clean copy.

  • Chancery was the most common script, although carolignian miniscule and gothic were increasinlgy used.

  • 1540. The publication of Robert Estienne's French-Latin dictionary controlled variety in spelling.

  • Proofreaders acted primiarly as editors and collators.

  • To correct printing errors, hand written marginal notes were occassionaly included. This practice led to the use of “cancels” inserted into the work or an errata page at the end.

  • “Freedom of thought and expression are eighteenth century concepts that had no existence in the intellectual outlook of earlier times. To fifteenth- and sixteenth-century France censorship was a matter of course, for it merely carried on medieval tradition.” pg. 55

  • ** There was no heresy in the TM: they're all images.

  • Civil wars tightened censorship. From September 1563, printed works required permission from the King... although how this was administered, I'm not sure.

  • ** There is a section that details the operation of censorship that parallels Johns's treatment.

  • 1618. Law stated that books not printed in clear type on good paper with the names of the printer and publisher and the permit and privilege were to confiscated.

  • Author could support himself through: 1. inherited or acquired wealth, 2. patronage through gifts of money, estate, government office, secretaryship, position as censor, lodgings, tutor of children, free printing, pension, subscription to a number of copies of a printed work. Most pensions ended with the sponsors death, 3. ecclesiastical preferment, 4. Professional other other occupations ** who was Bernard Palissy?, 5. Income from literary work (only possible late in the 17th century)

  • Author could hire printers and hire a dealer!

  • Sample of printing contract from 19 June 1565 (pg. 100): “Philippe Gaultier acknowledges receipt from Nicolas Gaultier, principle of the college of S. Vaast d'Arras in the University of Paris, of a manuscript written on paper containing twenty-six leaves (fifty-two pages) in addition to the title, entitled: Treatise on the Gout, by Demetrius Pepagomanus, translated into French by Ferry Jamet, MD. This book to be printed in an octavo volume on good paper, test in Cicero roman, summaries of chapters in Cicero italic, marginal notes is mall primer italic and quotations also in small primer italic. Phillippe Gaultier promises the work in one month. After printing is finished, he will furnish to Nicolas Gautier three hundred complete volumes, which he will pay for at the rate of three deniers and a farthing per sheet.”

  • “From the thirteenth century and until June 1618 the whole book business had, at least theoretically, no status whatever in commercial and industrial structure of France. It was an integral part of the educational system.” pg. 114

  • 1571. Charles IX issues edict of Gaillon which regulates the book trade.

  • “The date of 16 June 1618 is the great dividing line in the history of the French book trade. Before this it was irregular organization, part free, part regulated; a division of the University and yet subject to preliminary efforts to bring it closer to the civil government. Now a new corporation came into being with the publication of a new set of statutes.” pg. 122

  • “If the booksellers were disturbed by the peddlers, the printers were no less worried by the engravers and print makers. From the time of Henry III the latter were forbidden to have in their possession any fonts of type or any presses except those that were specially adapted for the printing of engraved plates. If they wished to print a caption below the engraving, they must call in a regular printer for the work, and even then the caption much not be longer than ten lines nor carried over to the revers side.” pg. 140

  • 12 December 1630 “private individual of quality” could not keep printing equipment in their homes. 10 May 1728, 16 April 1757, edict extended to ecclesiastical organizations.

  • All imported books had to be taken to guild headquarters for inspection.

  • Problem with jobbers and sales representatives who would skim demand before foreign publishers could make formal arrangements with Paris dealers. Banned 11 April 1740.

  • Mercantilism and medieval values mandated a particular code of conduct.

  • Books required permits after Francis I became alarmed by influx of Lutheran books from Germany. Permits were issued by the Faculty of Theology of the University of Paris; after 11 May 1612 by the Chancellor.

Lawrence B. Romaine's A Guide to American Trade Catalogs 1744-1900 (1976).

This annotated bibliography is very thorough. If I ever want to investigate the confluence between technical illustration and proto-marketing, I know where to look.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Galileo's Failure; Euler's Discovery

It's actually less Galileo's failure than mine. After reviewing his pioneering work on solid mechanics and strength of materials (if you rule out Leonardo), I became convinced that he had used the theatrum machinarum for inspiration. I felt that his findings and approach were a perfect bookend for Errard's depictions of bridges.

I was wrong. It seems that Galileo did not own any of the TM. Although he may have owned Trasportatione dell'obelisco vaticano, the library list entry is marked with an asterisk and the note:

"This copy of the work is currently possessed by B.N.F. and carries a bookplate marked: 'B.R.9.1.' It contains some small anotations attributed to Galileo." [L'esemplare di quest'opera attualmente posseduto dalla B.N.F. ed ivi contrasegnato colla notazione: "B.R.9.1." contiene alcune poche postille attribuite a Galileo.]

Galileo was unfamiliar with the TM. Favaro's index of authors indicates that Galileo owned none of the works. There still may be a strength of materials angle. While Galileo's work was good, it was also wrong. In my first few years of civil engineering we didn't study Galileo. We did, however, study the next two big names to enter the engineering game: Euler and Bernoulli.

Euler was a famous and prolific mathematician. He also did some nifty work on the compressive strength of solids with the aid of one of his colleagues, Daniel Bernoulli. As a family, the Bernoullis were prolific but Daniel has probably had the greatest impact on modern sophmore engineering students. They study both the Euler/Bernoulli theories for solid mechanics and Bernoulli's theorem for incompressible fluid flow... exciting stuff!

Bernoulli and Euler were (obviously) colleagues. What's interesting is that they were both employed by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, then under the direction of Schumacher. They certainly would have come into contact with Nartov. Indeed, there is evidence of letter writing between Nartov and Euler.

Nartov and Euler corresponded in 1743 with three letters, two of which were written by Euler. Euler also maintained communication with a great variety of other dignitaries. There were 39 letters with d'Alembert (1746-1773), 100 letters with Daniel Bernoulli (1726-1768), six letters with Condorcet (1775-1776), ten letters with Lomonosov (1748-1765) one letter from Kant (1749), and 307 letters with Schumacher (1730-1757). Given the acrimonious relationship between Schumacher and both Nartov and Euler, it's possible that these letters were related directly to the usurping of the directory.

There's also the possiblity that they were conferring about some of the works that were familiar to Nartov and were contained in Peter the Great's library: Besson, de Caus, and Ramelli, Bockler, and Leupold. Perhaps Nartov was the vector between Euler, Bernoulli, strength of materials, and the theatrum machinarum.

Euler's great work Methodus inveniendi lineas curvas appeared in 1744, the year after his correspondence with Nartov. At the time he was living in Berlin but still publishing in the Russian Academy's Commentarii Academiae Petropolitanae.

More letters between Nartov and Euler may exist. Volume 2 of Die Berliner und die Petersburger Akademie der Wissenschaften im Briefwechsel Leonhard Eulers, for example, is all about the correspondence of Euler wiith Nartov, Razumovskij, Schumacher, Teplov, and the Petersburg Academy, from 1730-1763. Perhaps I'll find some more hints; perhaps I'm smoking crack.


Favaro, A. "La Libreria di Galileo Galilei," in Bulletino Bibliografico di Storia Scientifica, Matematica & Fisica, 19 (1886), 219-90
Euler's Correspondents -- Alphabetical Listing

Post Script (December 29, 2005)

Die Berliner und die Petersburger Akademie was dissapointing. There are three letters between Euler and Nartov. Unfortunately, only the letter from Nartov is written in German. It seems that Euler's letters were written--and reproduced by the editors--in Russian. German is bad enough. I can't even decipher cyrilic letters!

A more promising avenue for pursuing the Nartov/Euler relationship is contained in Danilevskii's biography. The copy I had secured through ILL was a very poorly executed reproduction based on a microfiched archive copy. Luckily, I've been able to purchase a copy that was withdrawn from the University of Iowa library system... if only it had a better index! Thank goodness for

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Origins of the Numbered Books of Machines

The odd books by Hiscox and Brown have a storied past. As can be seen below, they have their origins in earlier manuscripts and in the Theatrum Machinarum. They also have a very specific etiology that can be traced from the time of Boulton and Watt.

Jean Nicolas Pierre Hanchette (1769-1834) may have been the earliest inspiration for the works. He was working for Gaspard Monge--the creator of descriptive geometry and all around interesting fellow--when Monge received the call from Napoleon to join the Egypt expedition.

Ferguson recounts Hanhette's experience:

"Being left in charge," wrote Hanchette, "I prepared the course of which Monge had given only the first idea, and I pursued the study of machines in order to analyze and classify them, and to relate geometrical and mechanical principles to their construction." (cited in Ferguson, pg. 210) His classification of machines may have been influenced by Christopher Polhem's "mechanical alphabet" of mechanical models which was built early in the 18th century (20 out of Polhem's approximately 80 models survive and are housed in Sweden's Tekniska Museet).

Hanchette's course wasn't introduced until 1806 and his textbook wasn't published until 1811. However, his general ideas and--most importantly--a chart of the various machine components that he identified were presented to the classes and grew in popularity.

His basic taxonomy of machines identified machine components by the way they converted one type of motion into another i.e., circular into alternating rectilinear. Just as Mendeleev's Periodic Table indicated gaps in the chemist's knowledge of elements, Hanchette's classification begged for additions. They were provided by Lanz and Betancourt, Spanish scholars studying at the Ecole Polytechnique.

The story of machines now bifurcates. There was the academic route pursued by Willis and Reuleux and there was the route taken by technicians. As Ferguson notes:

"It is immediately evident to a designer that the progress in mechanisms came about through the spread of knowledge of what had already been done; but designers of the last century had neither the leisure nor means to be constantly visiting other workshops, near and far, to observe and study the latest developments. In the 1800s, as now, word must in the main be spread by the printed page." (Ferguson, pg. 216)

Hanchette's work served as one vector of dissemination. His textbook was used at Westpoint Academy. It also gained popularity in the epoch of the Lyceum and Mechanics Institutes. Jacob Bigelow, for example, was a Harvard University professor who gave popular lectures on mechanics where Lanz, Betancourt, and Hanchette were used as authorities.

The work of Lanz and Betancourt was translated into English around 1820 with the title Analytical Essay on the Construction of Machines for Rudolph Ackermann. Their chart was also reprinted in Fenwick's Essays on Practical Machines (3rd ed.) of 1822. An American reprint was Appleton's Dictionary of Machines, Mechanics, Engine-Work, and Engineering (1851) where each plate was a direct trace (i.e., mirror image) of the original plates. The figures also appeared in Spon's Dictionary of Engineering (1873) and in Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary (1874-76), even if the synoptic charts were omitted. The continued relevance of these works shouldn't be downplayed. A reprint of Knight's work is still available!

These works were the indirect ancestors of the numbered books of machines. Their parent was--surprisingly enough--Scientific American. Originally published in 1845 as a patent journal, it carried a column called "Mechanical Movements." The depicted devices were almost always drawn from the works of Knight, Fenwick, Appleton, or Spon. A competing journal called American Artisan ran a similar series starting in 1864 and published a compilation in 1868: Brown's Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements. This work was continuously published until 1943, when A Manual of Mechanical Movements featured photographs of the kinematic models.

The origins of Hiscox's work is a bit more elusive. While similar in form to Brown's collection, it differs in that it profiles a far more diverse range of devices. True to form with the earlier theatrum machinarum, Hiscox provides descriptions of mechanical devices, scientific instruments, and drawing tools. He even provides an entire section devoted to perpetual motion contraptions.

In the preface to 1800 Mechanical Movements, Hiscox captures what may be the driving sentiment of all authors of mechanical works:

"The field of illustrated mechanics seems almost unlimited, and with the present effort the author has endeavored partially to fill a void and thus to help the inquirer in ideal and practical mechanics, in the true line of research.

"Mechanical details can best be presented to the mind by diagrams or illustrated forms, and this has been generally acknowledged to be the quickest and most satisfactory method of conveying the exact conditions of mechanical action and construction.

"Pictures convey to the inquiring mind by instantaneous comparison what detailed description by its successive presentation of ideas and relational facts fail to do; hence a work that appeals directly to the eye with illustrations and short attached descriptions, it is hoped, will become the means of an acceptable form of mechanical education that appeals to modern wants for the encouragement of inventive thought, through the study of illustrations and descriptions of the leading known principles and facts in constructive art."

Monday, December 12, 2005

The "Numbered" Books of Machines

There are a few oddities in my books of machines. I've often wondered about three works in particular. The first is called "507 Mechanical Movements." It's a reprint from Algrove Publishing of a work first published in 1868 by Henry T. Brown. I purchased my copy from Lee Valley for the rediculously low price of C$7.95. A digital copy of the original is also available through KMODDL.

The other two books also came from Lee Valley. They were both written by Gardner D. Hiscox. Hiscox outdoes Brown with the first, "1800 Mechanical Movements and Devices"--originally published as the 12th edition (1911) of "Mechanical Movements, Powers, and Devices" (the first edition was published in 1899. The second is called "970 Mechanical Applicances and Novelties of Construction." It is a reprint of the sequel to Hiscox's earlier work and was originally published in 1904 as "Mechanical Appliances, Mechanical Movements, and Novelties of Construction."

Where these books came from is a bit of a mystery. Each page depicts a collection of machines or mechanical component in a gallery. Sometimes the devices are related and sometimes they're not. The relationship between Brown and Hiscox is quite evident. Brown's figure 465 (Balance pumps. Pair worked reciprocally by a person pressing alternately on opposite ends of a lever or beam), for example, is identical to Hiscox's device 515 (of 1800): Tramp pumping device, sometimes called the Teeter pump. A self-evident illustration of an obsolete principal. The same device was depicted by Zeising, Zonca, and Leupold. It first appeared in Fracisco di Giorgio Martini's Codex Saluzziano 148.

These numbered books of machines have maintained their popularity., for example, currently lists several different imprints of Brown's work. It appears in two imprints from different publishers. The comments for both are glowing. Here's an example: "This book is a joy to browse though. It is a little gold mine of ideas for the mechanical designer. Yet, anyone with mechanical aptitude should enjoy it. The many crisp line drawings are presented with a minimum of explanation and no dimensioning. You see, it was assumed back in those days that a person with natural mechanical aptitude could look at a diagram, or a machine, and figure it out. Not only that, but it was assumed that once you had the idea, then you could work out all the details for yourself without having to be told everything down to the last screw size."

Eugene Ferguson contained some hints on where these works came from in his very interesting Kinematics of Mechanisms from the Time of Watt (also available at KMODDL).

A page from Brown's 507 Mechanical Movements (1868). Note figure 465.

Leupold's take on the same idea from his Theatrum Machinarum Generale of 1724.

Zeising gave the pump his own flavour in his Theatri Machinarum (1607-10)

Zonca may have started a trend with the depiction of this pump in Novo teatro de machine (1607)
di Georgio Martini starts a trend with his manuscript of 1490.