Ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe

Made:
1740 in Germany
maker:
Unknown

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, Germany, c. 1740

This lathe 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:
1888-393/1
Materials:
brass (copper, zinc alloy), cast iron, lacquer, steel (metal) and wrought iron
type:
lathe - machine
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
credit:
Pratt, S.