JF Ptak Science Books Post 1420
The Iconographic Encyclopedia of Johan Georg Heck (printed 1851) turns out to be perhaps one of the best designed books of its type in the nineteenth century. Seemingly no matter how much diverse information is hosted per page, whether the items number in the dozens or over a hundred, the artist managed to distribute them with such grace and apparent ease that it is an absolute pleasure to see it all arranged before you.
Take for example the following two engravings of artillery fabrication of the early/mid 19th century. There are 49 complex images on this first piece of 11x8-inch paper (above), and yet there seems to be also a lot of white space. It is a full but not crowded display of superb craftsmanship--it is also all very interesting. (Both are available for purchase from our blog bookstore.)
To start, the main figures at top-center shop the plan and elevation of a workshop for casting canons, and we can clearly see the main furnace ("A") for the big guns, surrounded by smaller auxiliary furnaces for smaller pieces. Off to the side we see "K", which is the drawing room and also the place where the director of the plant would live. Underneath it all in section we see various pipes and drains used to take away water and ash. The structure on the lower right is for forming the business end and the purpose of the canon or mortar--namely, the ammo, and in particular, the pattern mold of a 50-lb mortar. The long vertical pole at left used to place he liquid metal under pressure in the hearth, the ball being at the very bottom center.
I've enlarged figures 4 and 5 to show the particulars of a canon (dry sand) mold, #4 being the exterior of the mold and #5 showing a cutaway so that one could see the six-ponder canon that was being formed inside.
The second image displays cartridges and (in general) fireworks--military pyrotechny. What strikes me right away in this image are the five architecturals in the running vertically down the middle of the sheet. They show what to do with gunpowder once it has been manufactured, which is an important consideration on handling and safety prior to it being used in battle--the first plan shows a field magazine, while the other four show the disposition of the construction of a permanent magazine, which show plenty of ventilation as well as massive walls which are in turn sunk into the earth and surrounded by ramparts. It also seems that the roofing is huge, built no doubt to accommodate an earth filler. Each of the barrels carried a hundred pounds of powder, so there was considerable interest not to allow the magazine to blow up, and if it did, to have the blast go mainly skyward.
Some other items of interest in the second engraving include the incendiary devices (at bottom, #s 29+30), signal rockets (#s 32,33,34,35), and the Congreve rocket, (#40 and #52, which is much bigger and meant to be fired on the enemy, it being an incendiary); #53 is another Congreve, but this one scatters grenades as it is in flight.
There's a lot that can be described here but it goes a little beyond what I wanted to do with this post--it is also a lot beyond what I know about the subject.