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British Industrial History

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Jacques de Vaucanson

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Jacques Vaucanson (1709 – November 21, 1782) was a brilliant French inventor and machine maker who was responsible for the creation of impressive and innovative automata, machine tools, and textile machinery.

He was born in Grenoble on 24 February 1709.

1728-c.1741 Constructing automata.

1741 Appointed inspector of the royal silk factories.

1742 Reported on proposals for reforms of the silk industry

1744 The Lyon silk workers rioted against the Vaucanson regulations

1745 Invented an automatic loom

1746 Appointed to the Royal Academy of Sciences

1748 Invented an automatic weaving machine.

1748/1749: Invented a silk spinning frame.

1753 Married Magdeleine Rey, who died at the birth of their daughter Angélique-Victoire.

1757 Invented a 'machine à lustrer' (for calendering or polishing) gold and silver silk.

1760-73 Lead projects for factories in Lavaur, Montpellier, Tours, Dauphiné, La Sône (Isère) and Romans (Drôme).

1779 Returned to Paris.

1782 Died on 21 November, aged 72.

Shortly before his death in 1782, Vaucanson bequeathed to Louis XVI his collection of 300 objects (machines, tools, models, drawings, prints, etc), which led to the establishment of the Conservatoire pour les arts et métiers (now the Musée des Arts et Métiers), the first museum of science and technology in Europe, housed in the premises of the Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs.

For the source of the chronological events, see here[1].

See also Wikipedia entry.

A number of Vaucanson's machines are on display in the Musée, including Vaucanson's Lathe, Vaucanson's Drilling Machine, and a curious multi-purpose machine designed by Desbordes, shown here, with a little more information here, and an earlier photograph here[2]. Felix Rosat was responsible for the production of the lathe and the drilling machine.[3]

An account of Vaucanson's life and work was published in 1983 and may be obtained from the Musee des Arts et Metiers[4]

See also Vaucanson and the silk industry: early visions of the factory system.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] VAUCANSON ET L’HOMME ARTIFICIEL: Des automates aux robots Exposition au Musée dauphinois du 16 avril 2010 au 30 juin 2011: DOSSIER PÉDAGOGIQUE (6ème): Musée dauphinois Service éducatif
  2. [2] 'Circuitous Root' website - Ornamental Turning - Collections Spanning Eras
  3. 'Scientific Instruments of the 17th & 18th Centuries and their Makers' by Maurice Daumas, translated by Dr Mary Holbrook, Portman Books, 1972, p.308
  4. 'Jacques Vaucanson' published by the Musee National des Techniques, 1983