Flywheel, for ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe

Made:
1740 in Germany

Flywheel, for ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, Germany, c. 1740

The lathe driven by this flywheel, mounted above, 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:
1888-393/5
Materials:
brass (copper, zinc alloy) and wrought iron
type:
lathes
taxonomy:
  • tools and equipment
  • equipment
credit:
Pratt, S.