Mechanicorum liber

Mechanicorum liber by Guildobaldi del Monte (1577)

Introduced by Roger Gaskell

My logo for Roger Gaskell Rare Books is taken from the title page of Guidobaldi del Monte (1545-1607) Mechanicorum liber (folio, Pesaro, Hieonymus Concordia, 1577), regarded as the most important contribution to mechanics since Archimedes.

The globe and lever device is an illustration of the saying ascribed to Archimedes, ‘Toleret quis si consisteret’ – give me a place to stand and I will move the earth. The device was frequently used in later works on mechanics, but I do not know if it has a prior history.

In Mathematical magic (1648), John Wilkins gives a version of the device, and explains that ‘[Archimedes] was frequently wont to say, how that he could move, Datum pondus cum data potentia, the greatest conceivable weight with the least conceivable power: and that if he did but know where to stand and fasten his instrument, he could move the world, all this great globe of sea and land’ (pp. 79-80).


Emma Balch and Roger Gaskell printing on the wooden etching press made by Roger for the University of Virginia School of Rare Books in Charlottesville, USA.

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