The various and ingenious machines of Agostino Ramelli: A classic Sixteenth-Century illustrated treatise on technology


Translation and biographical study by Martha Teach Grudi. Annotations and glossary by Eugene S. Ferguson

Hard cover with dust jacket, 60pp., very heavy book, 30cm x 22cm. 2nd Edition.

Collapsible pontoon bridges, equipment enabling artillery to fire accurately at night, complex systems for raising and lowering water levels, gigantic earth-movers – all items readily associated with modern technology. These same intriguing machines can also by found in a book written and illustrated 400 years ago by Agostino Ramelli, a military engineer serving Henry III in France.

One of the 16th century’s most widely known and copied texts on mechanics, Ramelli’s work ranks high among technical illustrations of all time – both for its descriptive effectiveness and aesthetic appeal. The handsome volume was notable for its variety of solutions to problems, especially those for raising and lowering water levels, milling grain and breaching military defenses. These devices became part of the common stock of mechanical knowledge – and Ramilli’s book remained a vital force in the mainstream of technological development for at least 200 years.

Reprintged from the rare folio edition published in 1588, the current volume includes all the original publication’s 194 engraved illustrations, 20 of them double size.

Translated form Italian & French by Martha Gnudi, who also provided a complete biographical study of the author.  A Pictorial Glossary, prepared by Eugene S. Ferguson, contains principal elements of various machines (isolated for inspection), with additional notes on the mechanical aspects of machinery depicted on each plate.





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