Bessler 401



Bessler's Measuring Scale

Entering the subject of measuring I have one request for the people of precision. Please don't over complicate things with specifications that an ell is really only 1.842 feet. Proper ratio of component parts is what is important not the exact scale. Embrace the simplicity, put away your micrometers and allow the ell to be two feet. AMEN....

The Grund drawing has a line of text along the bottom that has not been translated, published or even discussed much by Bessler enthusiasts. The text begins with a blended NB that appears to be Latin for: Note well. You will find it scattered throughout Bessler's books often somewhat randomly. When one of these NB figures pop up we need to pay even closer attention to the material and or search for alternative thoughts and viewpoints.(1)

"According to the small measuring stick/: whether 3 ells or 6 shoe long:/ all things can be measured, it will all fit, done by Orffyre.

This should be a very important text.

When my friend, Renatto, read this line of text the first time he let out a tittering laugh over the word "shoe". He explained that foot is commonly the word "fus" in German and inspite of Bessler's repeated use of the word shoe instead of foot throughout Grund. In the time between having the copper plate done and getting the book printed Bessler may have been fearful that shoe was too much of a clue. He used the word shoe in Grund to cover his tracks because his later publications used the more common word foot and most of the people who wrote testimonials for Bessler also used foot.

When you look closely at the measuring stick, below, you will see that the smallest marks should indicate inches. The problem is that the first half of a foot foot has seven marks and the second half foot has the correct number six.

If this was a mistake by the engraver of the original copper plate it is a gigantic one and it is not one that Bessler would have likely tollerated or published. Since no correction was made or explanations given it appears to have been intentional.

My conclusion was that the drawing was made with two different scales. Much like a map with an inset map. On the main map one inch might represent hundreds of miles and in the inset portion one inch may represent a hundred feet. It would be very confusing if the inset were not clearly defined as Bessler did with this drawing.

For more insight lets take a look at the measuring stick found in the lower left

corner of Prima Figura.

The text below reads: Measuring stick of twelve shoe or six ells. (SCHUEN is not a real word according to three seperate sources and almost means : the act of putting on a shoe.)

The top of the scale is what gives us the strongest suggestion of what a shoe might actually be. Please remember that making an engraving for print is like working with a photographic negative. The uncut, raised parts, show up as black on the page and the cut away parts are white. Any little mistake is very noticable and is the sign of a rank amature. Bessler was an obsessive compulsive expert at everything that he did.

At the top far left of the scale Bessler took the time to carve out the fine separations of a dashed line and rather small text that clearly and narrowly define the twenty-four inch ell.

At the upper right, however, there is no dashed line and the words 'twelve inches' is a fair amount larger. Since there is no defining encasement it looks like he is refering to the whole scale. One 'shoe' section is darkened but what is not generally recognized is that the darkened area is one of twelve equal portions of the whole stick.

This length of the stick not only shows six ells (twelve feet) but also twelve inches. If similar meaning can be drawn from the measuring stick of the Grund, and then all of the drawings, it can be assumed that external components of the wheel are measured in two foot ells and at least some of the internal parts are measured in inches.

If the weighted pendulum arm number eight were actually an internal part and if we are correct in measuring with the 'shoe' scale that would make it approximately nine and a half inches long.

If we are going to figure out what parts of the drawings are really internal components as opposed to external components we must thoroughly study the text keys that go along with the drawings.

Click to continue: Twins Drawings

You can send email or suggestions to: me @

Copyright ©: All rights reserved

Corrections to this page are noted in GREEN TEXT.
Thanks to the following persons for offering information to make this web site better:
(1.Courtesy of Jon)