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Book Mad: Rees's Cyclopedia

Plates from it about Naval Architecture and Machinery

(Page's URL: navarch/navarch.htm)

Was I lucky?! I think so. I picked up what is described below for a song at an auction. (The source, Ree's Cyclopedia, was not mentioned in the auctioneer's description.

All are "sound", and reasonably clean. Well.. cleaner than I will be when I am 200+ years old, anyway.

Okay: Most of the "one page" plates have a stain on them. I can't deny it. But it isn't so egregious as to dampen my enthusiasm for the book.

It demonstrates superb draftsmanship, and engraving.

The amount of detail and information thoroughout is breathtaking. All produced without any computers!

And the matters covered mattered. The superior "blocks" (pulleys) and cannon (covered in this book), and cannonballs (not covered in this), and the fact that the British dockyards could out produce the Frenc ones was an important advantage in winning the war against Napoleon.

But! Who cares... Isn't it just gorgeous? Isn't it amazing? You don't need the above to see that, surely?

((q-alt text for image detail-4pg-lp1180987.jpg))

What you see above is detail from one plate in a book of plates.

Below... apologies for the crude graphic... I hope can see how the bit of the plate show above fits into the "page" it is part of. I put "page" in quotes because when you have to book in front of you, to see this plate, you turn to the right place, and turn out two flaps. One to the left, one to the right. So the "page" is four times the size of the book's size when it is stored on a shelf.

With the flaps folded out, the "page" (plate) comes to bout 80 x 26 cm. (80cm is about 32"). It and about eleven other, plus thirteen "merely" "page sized" plates, all to do with naval architecture and machinery were, recently bound together in a modern binding.

The plate is from Rees's Cyclopedia. It shows the "inboard works" of an archetypal "Ship of 74 Guns", c. 1812.

HMS Victory (Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar) was a 104-gun ship. The battle was on the 21st of October, 1805.

((q-alt text for image overview-4pg-lp1180988.jpg))

The Machinery, Cannons, and Instruments plates

My book consists only of the "four page spreads" discussed above, and 13 more single page plates, which this sectioon covers. In the Rees Cyclopedia, the text was separate from the plates, and I do not have any of that.

((q-alt text for image canon_boring-lp1180982.jpg))

The one about "Canon Boring" is from 1809. The style was slightly different on later plates.

What you can see of the "Machinery" plate is just the top 14cm of a (roughly) 26cm page. (This is a particularly "grubby" page, and the nasty marks at the left are not common. You can see the top of the "stain" I spoke of. It rises higher at the right hand side of the page than at the left.

((q-alt text for image detail-top of a page-lp1180978.jpg))


What is it for?

I've blanked out a small bit of text at the top of the plate that tells you. If you give up, look down to the bottom of this page, just after the "My Site at Arunet" link. Or use that to check your answer.

Yes, well, you may grasp the general purpose of the machine... but how did it work??

What was "m" for? Which bits moved? Which were stationary? What is "F" for? "E"?

Why, in general, are some letters in upper case ("E"), some in lower case ("e"), and some present in both forms?

BEST Way to answer? Craft a blog post or similar, give me the link. I'll consider posting the lihnk here.

CAN you MAKE a working model of this... on any level? In 15 minutes, a mock up of aspects of the right-hand diagram could be done with bits of light card! Well... some people could make one. You? Try!

How about computer animations? Maybe "just" a "video" showing what bits move, what don't. How about an interactive simulation?

Too many cool alternatives... for the Right Thinking Person.

Put an account of your creation on YouTube, let me know, and I'll consider a link here. If you publish the name of your school or college, and the name of "the right" person on the staff there, I'll consider a contribution to $upport their work... proportionate (by my lights) to your achievement. Or a contribution to a mutually agreeable charity. Propose one or two. If the school choses to use that as "prize" money to the creators, I'd have no objection.

And another thing...

Oh. Unless I'm missing something, there's something not at its true size in the diagram. Perhaps to make other things visible? Either one thing must be bigger, or another must be smaller, if the machine is to "work" as I think it does. If you see what I mean, send the letters of the two elements involved. If you can see an indication that they are drawn to their true sizes, but that there's is an "answer" to the apparent problem, tell me what that indication is. Contact details below.

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