20th Century Writers in English

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While the 18th and 19th centuries tended to see comprehensive works on OT as a whole, the 20th century was distinguished more for specific inquiries into particular subjects. After the citation of the Abell/Leggat/Ogden "Bibliography" here, therefore, the organization will be alphabetical by author.

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Abell et. al. Bibliography of Ornamental Turning. (1960)

Abell, Sydney George, John Leggat, and Warren Greene Ogden, Jr. A Bibliography of the Art of Turning and Lathe and Machine Tool History . Third Edition. (North Andover, MA: The Museum of Ornamental Turning Ltd., 1987) [Mailing Address in Tucson, AZ] LCCN: 86-64010. ISBN: 0-942325-00-1. This has been reprinted by the SOT as a part of the Bulletin collection on CD (on the first such CD, in 1998). See: http://www.the-sot.com/library.html

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Ayres. The Artist's Craft. (1985)

Ayres, James. The Artist's Craft: A History of Tools, Techniques and Materials. Oxford: Phaidon, 1985.

Ayres' book deals with a broad aspect of the tools of artists, and has a section on die-sinking for coining (pp. 170-176). Although he cites {Pollard 1971} (sometimes in words which echo perhaps too closely), and although Pollard argues in favor of the "reducing machine" (single-arm pantograph) as "the mere servant" of the artist, Ayres calls it "the most devastating innovation" ever to "disrupt" the die-sinking art.

Ayres reproduces a photograph (on p. 174) of a "Medallion lathe, once the property of Charles of Lorraine, Governor of the Belgians - French, 1760-90." This lathe sold at auction at Sotheby's on May 19, 1983. I have not been able to trace it further.

[click image to read at The Internet Archive]

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C.H.C. Ornamental Lathework.

C.H.C. [Charles Henry Chaplin] Ornamental Lathework for Amateurs. (London: Percival Marshall & Co., n.d. (by 1914)) N.b. "Lathe-Work" on cover. Marshall was the founding editor and the publisher of the magazine The Model Engineer.

I've scanned this book from my own copy. The icon at left links to a presentation of that scan at The Internet Archive. Here is a local copy of the PDF: chc-ornamental-lathework-0600rgbjpg.pdf

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The woodturning books of Mike Darlow probably won't appear in most conventional OT bibliographies. They are not, in fact, "straight" Ornamental Turning books. Rather, they are good instructional and theory books on woodturning written by someone who knows both plain and ornamental turning well and isn't afraid to use this knowledge. He's done something very clever, really - managed to sneak OT into books for a general woodturning audience.

His books are relatively easy to find online. I'll mention three here: Woodturning Methods (this one is particularly good on eccentric, multi-axis, and elliptical turning), Woodturning Techniques, and Woodturning Design.

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Eaton's Geometrical Machines

(This is not a bibliographical citation but rather a link to information on a body of work.) William S. Eaton, of Sag Harbor, NY, began in the late 19th century as a watchcase engraver and went on to develop a series of pantograph engraving machines (including the ones used by Frederic W. Goudy for his matrix engraving). Later in his life, he patented a series of devices applied to his pantographs which turned them into geometrical engines for engraving banknotes and the like. See ../../../../ Typefounding, Lettering, & Printing -> Pantograph Engraving Machines -> Eaton and Related Pantographs.

[click image to go to page]

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Gentry. "An Old Medallion and Rose Engine Lathe." (1922)

George Gentry wrote a two-part article describing "An Old Medallion and Rose Engine Lathe" then on loan to the Science Museum (London) for The Model Engineer in 1922. This article is in the public domain in the United States, and so is reprinted here (it is still in copyright in England, as it is still less than 70 years after the date of death of Gentry (1870-1964).

The lathe discussed here is Science Museum Inv. No. 1922-265. See also Olga Baird's 2005 article on lathes which have been associated with Louis XVI and the entry for Gilbert's 1975 book Early Machine Tools at The Science Museum (London) .

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Gilbert. Early Machine Tools. (1975)

Gilbert, K. R. Early Machine Tools. ["A Science Museum Illustrated Booklet."] London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1975.

This booklet illustrates a 17th century wooden-bed "Ornamental Turning Lathe," a (presumed) 18th century "Medallion Lathe" (which is Science Museum Inv. No. 1922-265, the lathe discussed in the 1922 Gentry article in The Model Engineer ), and a Single-arm pantographic reducing machine ("Engraving Machine") by Hulot which was purchased in 1824 for the Royal Mint.

The photograph of Inv. 1922-265 which is used in this book is available for sale from the Science Museum (it is not one of the photographs that they now license under a Creative Commons license) through their "Science and Society Picture Library" commercial service. Their image number for it is 10415845. Search their website for: Medallion Lathe. https://www.scienceandsociety.co.uk/ (or perhaps this link will work: https://www.scienceandsociety.co.uk/results.asp?txtkeys1=Medallion+Lathe).

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Grace. The Art and Craft of Ornamental Turning. (1960)

Grace, G. A. Ed. and intro. by Sydney George Abell with F. Haythornthwaite. The Art and Craft of Ornamental Turning (The S.O.T., 1960) This is an extensive and detailed work; it is not, however, an introduction to the field and it presumes a general knowledge of OT. This has been reprinted by the SOT as a part of the Bulletin collection on CD (on the first such CD, in 1998). See: http://www.the-sot.com/library.html

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Bill Jones

The late Bill Jones is one of those people I wish I'd had the chance to meet. His two books, Bill Jones' Notes from the Turning Shop (Lewes, East Sussex, UK: The Guild of Master Craftsman, Ltd., 1996) and Bill Jones' Further Notes from the Turning Shop (Lewes, East Sussex, UK: The Guild of Master Craftsman, Ltd., 1997) are joys to read. Each collects articles written for Woodturning magazine (he also wrote for the S.O.T. Bulletin). They're not regular OT books (he was primarily a plain turner of fine objects in ivory), but I keep them on the same shelf as Holtzapffel in my library.

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Knox. Ornamental Turnery

Knox, Frank. Ornamental Turnery. (NY: Prentice Hall Press, 1986). A good, well-illustrated, brief introduction. If I had to choose one book only, I'd choose Walshaw's Ornamental Turning over this, but since I don't, I'll choose both.

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Maskell. Ivories. (1905)

Maskell, Alfred. Ivories. London: Methuen and Co., 1905. This is an extremely minor source for the ornamental turner, but it does have one good illustration. Most of the book concerns ivory carving; Maskell is quite dismissive of the "popular distraction" of turned work in the 17th and 18th centuries.

This book has been digitized from a University of California copy and is online in The Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/ivories00mask The icon at left links to an extract of the pages concerned with ornamental turning, taken from this digitization. Note that Plate which appears in it suffers greatly from multigenerational JEG image conversion artifacts; for a better version, see the original single-generation JP2 image below.

Here is the highest-available resolution version of Plate LXI from this volume, showing two turned works (lossily saved in the original scan as a JP2 image; extracted, rendered, and losslessly saved as a PNG image): ivories00mask-plate-LXI-turned-examples-orig-0581-rot90cw-crop-full-2305x3146.png

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Matthews. Engine Turning

Matthews, Martin. Engine Turning: 1680 - 1980: The Tools and Technique. ([Kent?, UK]: by the author, [n.d., circa 1984]) An essential technical guide to rose engine and straight line work. Includes historical information on the firm of G. Plant & Son. This book is useful if you're interested in rose engines, but essential if you're interested in straight-line engines. ISBN: 0-9508801-0-8. It was reprinted by the Society of Ornamental Turners in 2017 and offered for sale to members; ISBN 978-1-9999228-4-9.

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Matthews. Four Generations of Watchcase Making (video, 1999)

Matthews, Martin. Four Generations of Watchcase Making. Video. (Otford, Sevenoaks, Kent, UK: BD Video Productions, 1999). This is primarily video about watchcase making, not engine turning (there are a few short bits on rose engine and straight line work near the end; the Holtzapffel lathe shown earlier is used in the video for plain turning). I'm including it here, however, because it fits so well with Matthews other work. It is humbling to watch him transform some bits of flat silver into a magnificent three-dimensional object.

This video is available on DVD from the producer, Barbara Darby: http://www.bdvideos.co.uk

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Matthews. Engine Turning (video, 2006)

Matthews, Martin. Engine Turning. Video. (Otford, Sevenoaks, Kent, UK: BD Video Productions, 2006). [Yes, this is 21st century, but it seemed best to keep all of the references to Matthews' work in the same Notebook.] It includes sections on the history of the lathe (the spring-pole lathe, using wood chucks on the turns (bow lathe)) a Holtzapffel lathe (with slide rest, but used for plain turning here), the straight-line engine, the rose engine (showing several remarkable ones), the ellipse chuck, the eccentric chuck, John Edwards using the rose chuck and a vertical cutting frame, more on the straight-line engine, the Matthews Circulator (an adaptation of Perkins/Spencer geometric apparatus to the rose engine), the geometric chuck (Alabone, Ibbitson), security printing, the Maschinenfabrik Michael Kämpf geometric lathe (1954 - ca. 1975), rose, manual and CNC straight-line, and brocade engines at Pledge & Aldworth. My only complaint is that it's 47 minutes long, when 470 minutes wouldn't be enough!

This video is available on DVD from the producer, Barbara Darby: http://www.bdvideos.co.uk

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O'Keefe. "The Art of Ornamental Turning." (1979)

O'Keefe, S. "The Art of Ornamental Turning." Studies in Design Education Craft & Technology. Vol. 12, No. 1 (September 1979). This is a historical (rather than technical) article by a family member in the firm of John O'Keefe & Sons, die sinkers and engravers.

This article is available online at https://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/SDEC/article/view/1198/.

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Pollard. [Boulton / Reducing Machines] (1971)

Pollard, J. G. "Matthew Boulton and the Reducing Machine in England." The Numismatic Chronicle. Seventh Series, Vol. 11 (1971): 311-317. Royal Numismatic Society

This article may be viewed online for free via the JSTOR commercial service, at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42664565.

Pollard's focus is on the single-arm pantographic "reducing machine" adopted in coining. This was a development in the history of portrait and medallion lathes, but differed distinctly in its mechanism. Pollard's study is, regrettably, notable for conflating the two kinds of machines. Nevertheless, his study is valuable for its reliance on original documents with regard to the Dupreyat reducing machines imported by Matthew Boulton for his private mint.

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Tweddle. The Rose Engine Lathe. (1950)

Tweddle, Norman. The Rose Engine Lathe: Its History[,] Development, and Modern Use. "Issued in a series as a supplement to the Bulletin of the Society of Ornamental Turners" starting 1950-08-01. This has been reprinted by the SOT as a part of the Bulletin collection on CD (on the first such CD, in 1998). See: http://www.the-sot.com/library.html

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Ungerer. "The Ultimate Lathe." (1999)

Ungerer, P. D. "The Ultimate Lathe." Popular Science. (April, 1989): 116-120. It's pretty good for a pop treatment. It does show the Lawler ornamental lathe.

This article is in copyright, but is available (presumably by arrangement) for online viewing via Google Books. Go to the Google Books Advanced Search page, search on "Popular Mechanics" for the title and April 1989 for a date range (or use keywords from author's name or the article title).

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Walton. Popular Science. (1959)

In the December 1959 issue of Popular Science, Harry Walton presented a construction article, "How to Build a Rose Engine with a New Twist" (pp. 154-155). The only problem was that while it was a good construction article on an interesting device, it wasn't about a rose engine. This was pointed out by W[arren]. G[reene]. Ogden, Jr. (co-author of A Bibliography of Ornamental Turning) in the May, 1960 issue (pp 10-11). The editor's acknowledgement of this correction was, however, marred by a simultaneous attempt to discredit it by citing meaningless factoids out of context. The editor seems to have been in tune with his readership, however, since in the Sept. 1960 issue (p. 16) a reader reported the successful completion of this device accompanied by a sadly anti-intellectual snipe at Ogden. Self-satisfied ignorance is nothing new in America.

The device in the construction article is nonetheless worthy of note. However, while it is obviously not a rose engine, as Ogden correctly points out, I'm not sure that it is in fact what he says it is, the "geometric pen" of G. B. Suardi (1752). It would seem, rather, to be much more closely related to a "cranked rod" mechanism such as the "Wondergraph." While I'm not a sufficiently good mathematician to know whether Suardi's pen and a cranked rod may be arranged to produce the same curves, it is quite clear that they are different mechanisms. One possible explanation of this conflation may be that at least as early as Proctor's A Treatise on the Cycloid and all Forms of Cycloidal Curves . the Geometric Chuck had been identified, kinematically, with Suardi's Geometric Pen.

Walton's article, and the two items of correspondence following it, are online in the Google Books presentation of Popular Science.

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Walshaw. Ornamental Turning. (1990)

Walshaw, T.D. Ornamental Turning. (Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, UK: Argus Books, 1990). Walshaw, perhaps better known by his pen name of "Tubal Cain," was a prolific writer on model engineering subjects. If I had to pick any single book with which to provide a technical introduction to Ornamental Turning, this would be it.

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Connors. "Ars Tornandi." (1990)

Connors, Joseph. "Ars Tornandi: Baroque Architecture and the Lathe." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. Vol. 53 (1990), pp. 217-236. Published by: The Warburg Institute DOI: 10.2307/751348. 20 text pages, 7 pages of illustrations. This is an interesting study of the influence of ornamental turning on baroque architecture. It also briefly mentions (with bibliography) the very early history of ornamental turning.

This article is available for limited free online viewing via the JSTOR service. Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/751348