A Luxury French Lathe

A Luxury French Lathe

Along the 17th and 18th century, European nobility and royalty had among their hobbies also manual activities. French kings as well as German princes and noblemen loved to be trained, often with the help of a teacher, to practice metalworking and to make with their hands iron, wood and ivory pieces.
Given their privileged economic status, they liked to use of luxury tools such as this spectacular lathe, certainly realized for a high-ranking person.


The present and perfectly preserved piece is made up of four elements: a horizontal bar, two vertical uprights, a fixed one the right, with the point, a sliding one with the counterpoint on the left, and further double sliding element in the middle.
Every part of the tool is finely adorned with decorative patterns typical of the Louis XV and Louis XVI style: the horizontal bar ends on both sides with a lion head and is embellished with a fretted frieze; the vertical uprights are also richly engraved with vegetal motifs as well as the double element shows a rich acanthus leaf; the five fixing screws are also finely pierced with elegant enlaced motifs.

Collezione Franck_tornio

Lathe with the Medici coat-of-arms (Frank, Old French Ironwork…, 1950, pl. 7 n. 41)

We know just another comparable lathe: the famous one- with the Medici coat of arms engraved on the fixing screws – belonging to the celebrated Edgar B. Frank collection, built in France in the first half of the twentieth century.


Wrought, carved and engraved iron
France, 18th century
Cm. 45.5 x 14 x 16,5 h

Published in: AA.VV., Tools, Beyond hands towards beauty, Milan 2013, n° 15
References: Edgar Block Frank, Old French Ironwork. The craftsman and his art, Harvard University Press, 1950

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