Bessler 401


Bessler's Measuring Scales

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 and allow the ell to be two feet for the sake of discussion. 

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, or "This is very important, pay attention !!!". You will find these NB's scattered throughout some of Bessler's books, particularly in MT. When one of these NB figures pop up I tend to pay even closer attention to the material and or search hard for what is being identified or emphasized.


The above German text translates to: "NB 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.

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 in spite 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 tolerated 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.

As my main goal and intent is discovering "one way wheel".... first. Because Prima and Secunda drawings appear to be related the one way wheel I have focused the most on them.  The measuring stick found in the lower left corner of Prima Figura has text (below) which translates : Measuring stick of twelve shoe or six ells. (SCHUEN is not a real word according to three separate sources and almost means : the act of putting on a shoe.)


The scale gives us a very few options of what this 'shoe" might actually be.

I currently favor the most simplistic approach that the top of the scale is divided into 24 inch ells and bottom scale shows six 8 inch long 'schuen'. This figure works conveniently into my latest test models.

If the weighted pendulum arm shown in Prima Figura by the letter 'P' were actually an internal part and measured on the 'shoe scale' that would make the arm approximately three feet from the center of the weight to the pivot point.

Click to continue: Twins Drawings

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Thanks to Jon for detailed info on the origins of "NB"