Automation mechanism, for ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe

Made:
1740 in Germany
maker:
Unknown
Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888.  Watchmaker's lathe. Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888.  Watchmaker's lathe. Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888.  Watchmaker's lathe. Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888.  Watchmaker's lathe. Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888.  Watchmaker's lathe.

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Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888. Watchmaker's lathe.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888. Watchmaker's lathe.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888. Watchmaker's lathe.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888. Watchmaker's lathe.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Automation mechanism for the ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, 1750-1888. Watchmaker's lathe.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Automation mechanism, for ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, German, c. 1740

The lathe which this automaton clockwork mechanism drove automatically produced a complex geometrical pattern, cut into a small round piece of wood. In so doing it replicated the work of a human turner, who could decorate things such as watchcases or medallions.

The lathe’s astonishing design reflects that it was made for someone wealthy – it is traditionally associated with King Frederick the Great of Prussia, who was also a turner. Possessing this wondrous machine, performing its lifelike task, would have emphasised Frederick’s position as a great statesman.

Details

Category:
Hand and Machine Tools
Object Number:
1888-393/4
Materials:
brass (copper, zinc alloy), gunmetal and wrought iron
credit:
Pratt, S.