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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

An Ingenious Sculpturing Machine

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

An Ingenious Sculpturing Machine is an article published in the Scientific American on 10 october 1930.

The article include 7 photos of the sculpting machine.


An Ingenious Sculpturing Machine

Scientific American
(10 october 1903, p. 260 & 262)

By the London correspondent of the Scientific American.

A machine that is attracting considerable attention in artistic circles in London is a mechanical sculptor. It has been brought over from Italy by its present owners, Mr. W. G. Jones, a sculptor, and Sir A. Conan Doyle of literary fame. It is after the style of the pantograph, and by its means a statue can be triplicated in a day, each copy being an exact replica of the original.

The machine, though somewhat large and cumbersome in appearance, is simple in construction, easily driven and manipulated. Briefly, it consists of two revolving drills, which are made to pass over the marble away like cheese. To keep the cutters cool a jet of water is thrown upon them, and as they grind into the marble and powder it to dust, it runs down as white as milk in a trough.

Every nook and cranny, every wrinkle or dimple, in the model can thus be repeated in the marble. The machine-made busts are nothing less than a perfect duplicate of the model. Mistake in the way of removing too much of the marble is impossible, as the tools operating on the blocks must work in perfect sympathy with the pointer, which, of course, cannot go below the surface. The pointer is of wood and stationary. The drills are of steel, and are made to revolve at a fairly high speed. For the more delicate work finer drills are used.

The apparatus, which covers about four square yards of ground, is valued by its owners at $2,500. As a labor-saving device it has undoubtedly much to commend it. At present, when a sculptor has completed his clay model of a statue which is eventually to be seen in marble, he hands it over to a man known as the "pointer," who by the aid of. an instrument of that name drills hundreds of tiny holes of various a bust has been machined, as it were, it is rubbed over with sandpaper, when it is ready for the market. For architectural display on buildings this additional labor would not be necessary.

Engineers who have inspected the machine declare that the principle can be adapted for wood-carving and chasing silver. Indeed, the owners have already been approached by a well-known London firm of silversmiths, for permission to build an experimental apparatus for silver work on similar lines. The machine is the invention of an Italian ex-naval officer, Signor Bontempi. Receiving much opposition from the Italian studios, he sold the patents to a society, formed of a few foreign and a few Italian gentlemen. They took premises in the vaults of the famous old ruin, the Palace Donn' Anna, at the foot of Posilipo, and set the machine at work. The first statue made was a copy of a Venus in the Naples Museum, which he did so well that the only means,of distinguishing it from the model was its whiteness, the original being quite dark. Our illustrations were made directly from photographs, with the exception of one which is a drawing reproduced from the London Illustrated News.


Scientific American
(10 october 1903, p. 261)





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