Chapter 1: Theatrum Machinarum ...

Jacob Leupold: Theatrum Machinarum [...] (Leipzig 1724-).

published May 2014

The favorite book of Florian Ruhland

Our new series starts off with Florian Ruhland, Academic librarian in the Iron Library. His favorite book is a classic in the history of technology: the monumental 18th century work Theatrum Machinarum by Jacob Leupold.


The reader

The book

Jacob Leupold: Theatrum Machinarum [...] (Leipzig 1724-).

The Theatrum Machinarum - Jacob Leupold's opus magnum
This holds true for "Jacob Leupold's multivolume, copiously illustrated compendium of mechanical technology in the early 18th century, theTheatrum Machinarum."* Jacob Leupold (1674-1727) was a Mathematicus, Mechanicus and instrument maker based in Leipzig, Germany. His Theatrum Machinarum consists of nine volumes and contains more than 2.000 text pages and more than 500 copperplate engravings. I am still amazed at these numbers - although it is only a fragment of what Leupold planned to publish. "Leupold's books delineate for us the state of the arts of machine design and machine building around 1725."* Nobody but James Watt, famous steam engine improver, studied German in order to read the volumes of the Theatrum Machinarum. (*I cite Eugene S. Ferguson)

These are the spine lables on several volumes of Leupold's Theatrum Machinarum - just as they are shelved in the Iron Library. They caught my eye even though they hide in a corner of the room where our rare books are shelved - as if they wanted to show that the Theatrum Machinarum is not a book like any other.
If you visit the Iron Library, you will have the opportunity to examine all volumes of Leupold's great work in the original. The Iron Library owns all the volumes, some of them even in several editions. Two volumes have just been "retouched" by the book restorer, who has dressed their covers in fresh kiebitz paper.

The best and quickest way to get an impression of the contents of the Theatrum Machinarum is to look at the copperplate engravings they contain.

Have a look at Leupold's copperplates!

If you would like to learn more about Jacob Leupold or other machine books and their authors, take a look at the Iron Library's catalog or plan a visit. As a tip for further exploration I would like to recommend the beautiful websites of our larger "sister library" in the Deutsches Museum in Munich. There, Leupold's Theatrum was "book of the month" in 2001.

The book in IRONCAT

Leupold's "Theatrum Machinarum" in the catalog of the Iron Library