Ornamental Turning

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"How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered into the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which have been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known!"

— Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

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Turners of the Early Modern Period

Ornamental Turning in the Early Modern Period (14th – 18th C.)

From the Renaissance to the Age of Enlightenment, ornamental lathes were used by the elite of society. Each machine was individually made (in the early years, invented) with considerable time and expense. They were highly valued items that served nobility with both recreation and education.

The ornamental lathe was unique in that it enabled the turner to shape raw material according to a preset plan. The resulting objects were often highly complex, demonstrating the mastery and control of the maker. This fascinated the nobility, whose world view advocated a rational, natural order where reason was the primary basis for authority.

The following sections provide details of the various sovereign turners, as well as their highly accomplished court appointed turners, from each of the predominant regions:

 

Sources for the above sections, and for additional details and photos: