Ellipsograph devised in 1840 by John Hick of Bolton

1840 in Bolton
John Hick

Ellipsograph devised in 1840 by John Hick of Bolton, in box

Simple vertical ellipsographs were introduced by engineers John Hick and James Nasmyth, the latter responsible for inventing the steam hammer. Hick was the eldest son of industrialist Benjamin Hick and one of the founders of British engineering company B. Hick and Sons based at the Soho Ironworks in Bolton, England. In 1842, he got the Royal Society of Arts’ silver medal for his ‘elliptograph’ as it was called in the 1840s. He designed and constructed it in his Bolton foundry and he sent the designs for its construction to London too.

To draw an ellipse with this instrument, the drawing point is guided around the inside of the ellipse gauge. Various sized ellipses can be produced by adjusting the height of the lower arm. The use of other gauges is required if one is to alter the ellipse’s proportions.


Object Number:
curve drawing instruments and ellipsographs
Mr R.B. Prosser