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Daniel Good Rare Books and Engravings

1662 Balth. Schwan; Boeckler PISTON PUMP water raising machine - Trades, technology

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Piston pump (lift pump) powered by a treadmill, copperplate engraving from Theatrum Machinarum Novum

Engraved by Kiefer for Boeckler’s great collection: Theatrum Machinarum Novum published in 1662.

From the GREATEST ‘MACHINE BOOK’ of the 17th Century.

29.4 x 20.8 cm

A recurring theme in the book is the perpetual motion machine. “The use of water-power seems particularly prone to implant the idea in the human mind. This is probably attributable to the assumption that water comes from nowhere in particular and costs Man nothing. This deludes the miller into assuming that his power costs him nothing by concealing the fact that his power is bought and paid for in terms of units of energy and that it can be delivered to him but once. In any event, it would seem that the proprietor of a water-mill – especially of one whose driving stream was subject to seasonal diminutions of flow – was forever trying to make his water run back uphill and work for him again. Later and wiser mill engineers accumulated their energy when it was plentiful by constructing mill-ponds with sluice gates so that when the natural water flow was diminished, reserves could be drawn upon which did not defy the laws of Nature.

“Unfortunately for the peace of the medieval mind, it knew of at least one highly plausible scheme for making water run uphill. If the end of a pipe, coiled like the thread of a screw, is immersed in water, and the whole pipe rotated like a screw, the water will climb up the pipe and keep on climbing so long as the pipe is kept turning. This strange but perfectly workable invention is called an Archimedean screw … What we know and understand about the Archimedean screw is that the pipe must be turned by some outside agency. This illuminating piece of information was not understood by our ancestors who, with glinting eyes, asked ‘What could be more simple than to connect such an Archimedean screw with the water-wheel of a mill, and make the mill run the screw, and the screw run the mill?’ To Böckler, as to so many others both before and after his time, the answer was that nothing indeed was more simple. Böckler’s mills, which he illustrated in plenitude, all worked on this principle … One notable feature of the Archimedean perpetual motion machine depicted here is the shape of the motive blades which bear a strong resemblance to the modern turbine” (Ord-Hume, pp. 48-50).

Boeckler’s Theatrum Machinarum Novum is another of the great ‘machine’ books with many beautiful engravings of gunpowder mills, saw mills, water raising devices, fire engines, roasting spits and so on. Böckler was a German architect and engineer interested in masses of gearing, complex workings, and devices that even by modern standards invite awe and admiration” (Hoover).

Good overall condition on fine laid paper.