Ingenious machines for drawing curves: The Archives

Anita Chowdry

Spirograph Spirograph

A frequent comment made by viewers of the Iron Genie harmonograph in action, is that it reminds them of the Spirograph. Most of us are familiar with this childhood toy, which consists of a large ring-gear with internal teeth and a series of different sized gears which run inside it – when you insert a pen-tip into one of the holes of the interior gear and run it around within the annular gear, you get a fascinating spiraloid drawing. The drawings that can be achieved with a single gear can be varied quite dramatically by inserting the pen tip into different holes, and further variations are achieved by using different sized gears.

Spirographs and harmonographs are part of an interesting narrative of private obsession and ingenious inventiveness that took place throughout the nineteenth century. Once you delve into the relatively obscure archives of this story, a number of…

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2 thoughts on “Ingenious machines for drawing curves: The Archives

    • Thanks
      I have a copy of ‘Poly-cyclo-epicyclodial and other Geometric Curves’ by Edwin Alabone, and somewhere or other we still have a fairly simplistic wooden version of a ‘geometric chuck’ I suppose, which we just called the ‘pattern maker’ as children.

      It’s interesting to see some of the history behind these things.

      Liked by 1 person

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