Pneumatics Tab. III by Taylor, 1778
Pneumatics Tab. III engraved by Isaac Taylor for Abraham Rees' edition of Chambers' Cyclopaedia, 1778.
Pneumatics is an area of technology that uses pressurized air to move materials or create mechanical motion. It has many applications in a variety of fields, but is most extensively used in industry. Hydraulics and pneumatics are similar and are based on many of the same principles. Both use fluid power to operate machines or transport objects from place to place. In pneumatic systems gases are used whereas liquids are used to power hydraulic systems. Pneumatics can be found in a large number of inventions, because it allows for safe, reliable operation and uses simple design and control. A balloon is an example of a device that utilizes pneumatics to operate and Westinghouse's air brake for locomotives is another example. In this print, Taylor has drawn different hygrometers and thermometers. Early thermometers where tubes filled with air that contain a thermometric material like mercury. As the mercury was heated or cooled it would affect the air pressure in the tube, which would cause the mercury to rise or fall. By understanding air pressure and its relation to other things such as temperature, scientists and engineers have been able to develop countless devices that rely on air power to operate instead of more complex electric systems.
Isaac Taylor (1759-1829) was an English engraver, writer, and pastor. His father Isaac Taylor (1730-1807) was a successful engraver and it was in his studio that Isaac developed his skill. It was during his apprenticeship at his father's studio that the plates for Abraham Rees' edition of Chambers' Cyclopaedia were executed and he superintended the project. He published a number of books and continued to work as an engraver in addition to his role as a nonconformist pastor. He and his wife, Ann Martin, had eleven children, six of whom survived childhood. Their son Isaac was a historical writer, inventor, and artist, and their daughters Jane and Ann were poets and writers as well.
Abraham Rees (1743-1825) was a Welsh minister and encyclopaedist. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1786. As his career progressed he also became a member of the Linnean Society and the American Philosophical Society. From 1778-1788 he published a revised edition of Chambers' Cyclopaedia which contained Chambers' many corrections and The Supplement, which was published in 1753, as well as articles added by Rees. He published it in five folio volumes and altogether it was five thousand ten pages with one hundred fifty-nine plates. While Rees did not paginate any of the pages he did include an index at the end which arranged the material alphabetically by subject.
Ephraim Chambers (1680-1740) was an encyclopaedist and writer from England. From 1714-1721, he was apprenticed to globe maker John Senex. During his time at Senex's studio he came up with the idea for his Cyclopaedia, which would occupy him the rest of his life. The first edition was published in two folio volumes in 1728. Chambers included cross references between articles and had them arranged in alphabetical order. There was also a dedication to King George and a preface laying out the contents of the work and the order they should be read in. A second edition was published in 1738, and five additional editions followed between 1739 to 1752. His work was very popular, and at the time of his death he had compiled material for several more volumes. Chambers also translated a number of texts on perspective and chemistry into English from French and contributed articles to the Literary Magazine.
- Naomi Bean