Verbiest's Prints

In the exhibition we were able to present only a selection from Ferdinand Verbiest’s Xinzhi Yixiangtu. All 105 of the prints are available here. Click on a thumbnail for larger versions, or choose a group from the list of themes such as astronomy and mechanics.

Theme: Disembodied hands [41]

Sextant The celestial globe in use. Note the disembodied hands setting the base of the instrument, with a spanner on the right On the strength of materials, in relation to Galileo Explanation of the centre of gravity of different planes and solids The back of an astrolabe (upside down) and a geometrical solid, to show that the object will be in equilibrium when suspended through the centre of gravity The centres of gravity of a sextant of Tycho Brahe The centre of gravity of birds in flight, on ground, and at rest (top and right) and of an astronomical instrument suspended on pulleys (left) Illustration of an upright flywheel (left) and of polishing the rim of a wheel (right) Method used for finding centre point of a bronze ring with a beam compass Method used for determining the inner and outer edges of the ring Trimming of the edges of the ring (right), filing and fine polish of the ring (left), and tools (file, hammer, chisel, and grindstone) used in the processes (bottom) Testing of finished ring for balance (left) and levelness (right) Method used to cut the surface of a celestial globe, where two people turn the globe (one with crank, other with their feet) and two grind the sphere Single-handed compasses with caliper blade inserts (left), basic calipers (bottom middle), and cylindrical compasses for measuring spheres and tubes (right) Beam compasses (right and left), and the preperation of a graduated scale on a large ring (centre) Dividers of various construction with a variety of blade inserts Use of a fixed divider to graduate a globe to correspond to its meridian ring, also illustrations of two similar dividers (bottom) Use of dividers (left) and a grid square (right) Use of a graduated tracers on a sphere (top left) and a horizontal ring (bottom left), the use of dividers to measure height of a central point (right top), the use of a set square and plumb bob as level (right bottom), and an illustration of a graduated tracer with round engraving point (middle) An elliptical compass (top left), drawing an ellipsis with a rope (middle left), instrument to engrave parallel lines (bottom left), an instrument for drawing conic sections (top right), and drawing a curve using a tracer and rope (bottom right) Tools used to cut screws A three-faced clock (left) and the simple pendulum (right) Examples of the three kinds of levers (right) and their use in a hoisting operation (left) Human-powered forge hammer after Beeson (1571/2) (left) and an illustration of the lever principle as applied to pincers (right) Illustration of the use of pulleys and tackle to raise platform and instrument segments Illustration of two systems of multiple pulleys Diagrams of lifting arrangements and how to lift a quadrant arm with ropes and a crown block (bottom middle) Lifting system using the principles of the lever A quadrant (left), and a lifting system using an inclined plane compared to one without the inclined plane (right) Illustration of lifting on two parallel lines (left) and the practical application of the principle (right) Illustrations of lifting on two non-parallel lines to show that they meet at the centre of gravity (right & left) and the application of the principle to the support of a globe (centre) Illustration of how to move heavy items sideways by the use of pulleys Illustration of a windlass (left) and a machine for lifting heavy weights (right) Gearwheels used to power the rotation of Verbiest Machine and accompanying diagram to lift building materials to Observatory platform. Illustration of principles needed to find the centre of gravity of a quadrangle (bottom middle) and the application of the principle to mounting and lifting sextants and quadrants Armillary sphere in use Quadrant in use The use of pulleys in operating sextants and quadrants Illustration of a portolan chart and the practice of sailing along rhumb lines, and the use of an astrolabe and cross-staff to measure latitude A pendulum device (lower right), and a series of experiments about the law of natural descent