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The mechanical career of Councillor Orffyreus, confidence man
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View: Figures


Image of Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Overbalanced wheel conceived by Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Worcester (1601–1667). The drawing is by Rupert T. Gould (Fig. 14 in Ref. ) and is used here with permission of his heirs.

Image of Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Diagram of the wheel built by Orffyreus in Merseburg, taken from Ref. and based on an engraving published by Orffyreus in 1715. On the left is a side view and on the right a frontal view, both of the same device. The driving mechanism is supposedly hidden within the wheel. The three-bobbed pendula on the front and back of the wheel merely regulate its speed of rotation. The device is shown lifting a weight attached to a rope that wraps around the axle.

Image of Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

(a) Detail of an accusatory image published by engineer Johann Borlach after witnessing Orffyreus's exhibition at Merseburg. (b) Version given by Orffyreus in Ref. , accompanied by a brief text dismissing Borlach's interpretation as absurd. Suspiciously, Orffyreus altered the image in significant ways, adding handles to the axle and obscuring the crank that Borlach thought coupled the wheel to the lever.


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Scitation: The mechanical career of Councillor Orffyreus, confidence man