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American Mechanical Dictionary — Vols. I, II, III - Woodworking
by Edward H. Knight

This product is no longer available.

It would not be possible today to produce a work that attempts to describe all existing manufacturing processes and mechanical devices developed to date, including their histories, yet this is what Knight did in his monumental 19th-century work. He called it a dictionary instead of an encyclopedia because it is organized alphabetically rather than by scientific association, but it is truly encyclopedic in approach. For example, he lists the fiber characteristics of the best types of animal hair for felting and includes 4 pages on making felt hats. There are 6 pages on glass making, 3 on flax processing, 5 on the history and art of map making, and 4 on lighthouses ranging from the great Egyptian lighthouse at Alexandria (which stood from 280 BC to 1303 AD, was 450 feet high, and was illuminated with wood fires) to the electrically powered, revolving lights of late 19th-century lighthouses. And so it unfolds, a magnificent work that explains more about the origins of modern processes and mechanisms than anything written before or since, all augmented with scientific and technical underpinnings.

Significantly, the writing is not dry and technical. In the 13 pages on firearms and their mechanisms, Knight starts with the use of rockets and grenade firecrackers used in ancient China, tracing development through the arquebus, the musket, and repeating rifles, to the complex armament of the 19th century. General subject areas are all developed in such a manner. It is the type of work you can pick up and be engaged immediately, whether for minutes or hours.

Knight's organization is ideal for reference. There are subject indexes that list all the devices in a category. For example, under the heading "Agricultural and Husbandry Implements", there is a brief general definition followed by an alphabetical list of nearly 500 items in that category, with page references to detailed individual entries for each. There are 165 such subject headings grouped for easy reference. The net effect is that almost anything can be found quickly.

Smyth-sewn hardcover, with a linen finish and gold embossing on spines. Three volumes, 7" x 10" each, 2899 pages in total, with over 7000 illustrations and an overall weight of 12 lb. First published in 1874-76; reprinted in 2005 as part of our Classic Reprint Series.

 
 
American Mechanical Dictionary — Vols. I, II, III
 49L80.83 Additional views   
  $119.00

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