Friday, July 15, 2011

507 Mechanical Movements: Mechanisms & Devices

Front cover of 507 Mechanical Movements Book

Book Review of 507 Mechanical Movements

There is a small, scared part of me that doesn't want to tell you about this book. You see, I fear that you will buy it, read it, and use it so quickly, and for so little money that whatever head start I have as an automaton artist will be lost!

But that's being paranoid, isn't it? You aren't all automaton makers out there. And even if you are, you will find a different use for mechanisms in this book than I will.

Copyright 1868...and I Love it!

This book is unchanged from the date is was published over 130 years ago. The title is so long that amazon's listing can't fit it all. Just so you don't miss out on the charm of it, here it is as written on the title page:

Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements, Embracing All Those Which Are Most Important In Dynamics, Hydraulics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Steam Engines, Mill and other Gearing, Presses, Horology, and Miscellaneous Machinery: and including Many Movements Never Before Published and Several Which Have only Recently Come into Use

A Mechanism Gold Mine

One review of this book on's site, complained that book is "just a collection of line drawings". Right! That's why I love it. I think it's a great little book, certainly of great value to automaton makers.

Of a similar vintage to Ingenious Mechanisms for Designers and Inventors, this book deals with only individual mechanisms, rather than complex multi-stage machines. With about 9 mechanisms on every other page, this little book is a dense gold mine compared to the more text-heavy Ingenious Mechanisms -- a four volume set.

The left hand page of each spread shows 6 to 9 mechanisms or "Contrivances" as they were called. The page on the right side gives a short description of each of the mechanisms. Almost all of the mechanisms shown in this book are practical and straightforward. I have no doubt that they represent tried-and-true solutions to real-world problems.

Dover Does it Again!

For me, this book serves as mechanical inspiration, similar to the way I use Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices Sourcebook. I can browse through the pages to solve a specific problem. Or, I can start with a neat mechanism and design around it. At the time of this writing, Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements costs less than a quarter of Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices Sourcebook.

Yes, the pictures are black and white line drawings. Yes, the language is a tad archaic. That's part of the fun. Seriously!

The Bottom Line

Listen, if you are considering buying Ingenious Mechanisms for Designers and Inventors or the Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices Sourcebook but are not sure that you will find a way to use them, why not start with this book? Then, if this book works for you, you can invest in the more costly books of this sort.

If you are looking for mechanical inspiration and are short on shelf space, cash, or attention span, this book is a really good choice. Your best choice, actually.

Here it is: 507 Mechanical Movements: Mechanisms and Devices.

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Blogger Karin Corbin said...

When interested in books that are so old the copyright is no longer in use head to Chances are it is available as a free download. 507 Mechanical Movements is there!

Much of the Dover publications are old books that have an expired copyright. I am very limited on space for storing things so I prefer digital copies of old books.

July 15, 2011 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Yes, I believe that this book is available from for free at

July 18, 2011 at 3:07 PM  

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