When Bessler, aka Orffyreus, died his after-death inventory included many papers stored in a box along with several wood ink blocks. Among those papers was a collection of printed sheets which numbered about 141. They consisted of a number of illustrations detailing examples of attempted perpetual motion machines. None of these would have worked but some were accompanied by brief notes. The author hints that he will reveal more later in the sequence of pages. Many are convinced that the drawings contain codes which when deciphered it is hoped, would lead to the solution to his own perpetual motion machine.
It has always been my contention that the papers were never intended to be published. I think that they were simply oexecuted prints designed for use by his intended apprentices at his planned school once he had obtained sufficient funds from the sale of his PM machine. I named the collection of pages ‘Maschinen Tractate’, (MT) in error thinking that a book he offered to the Tzar of Russia, Peter the Great, which he described similarly was what was in the box. Later I realised that the Tzar’s book was to contain details of all the agricultural and industrial machinery that Bessler had learned about during his early years.
I envisage a class of young apprentices of around fifteen years of age, numbering a dozen or so. For each class Bessler would print off a dozen sheets from his box and hand them out for discussion and study. He included some of his minor ciphers but I believe they were there to test his pupils powers of observation and to introduce new ideas and some humour into their classroom discussion.
The last illustration that seemed intended as part of the series appears to be MT136; MT137 was in my opinion added later but still intended for discussion because it mimicked Bessler’s acquaintance, David Heinichen’s ‘circle of fifths’. This would be a good subject for class discussion particularly because it drew a link between music and the golden mean.
After MT137 there followed a single page numbered 138,139,140 and 141. I coined the name the ‘Toys Page’, (TP) for convenience and because I didn’t want people to refer to it as MT138 without the other numbers as I thought it might lead to confusion. I used the word ‘Toys’ because Bessler used the word in a note on that page.
I think that Bessler had already designed and printed this page for discussion in his classroom, but added the note later, possibly for benefit of those who came after.
In summary then I think there is little to learn from MT, which is not available elsewhere, but the Toys page does offer lmore information from a different angle, which I found useful.
On the first page of the MT, Bessler wrote,
“ N.B. 1st May, 1733. Due to the arrest, I burned and buried all papers that prove the possibility. However, I have left all demonstrations and experiments since it would be difficult for anybody to see or learn anything about a perpetual motion from them or to decide whether there was any truth in them because no illustration by itself contains a description of the motion; however, taking various illustrations together and combining them with a discerning mind, it will indeed be possible to look for a movement and, finally to find one in them.”
I have said this several times over the years, but here goes again - in my opinion when he writes,‘taking various illustrations together and combining them with a discerning mind’ he is not excluding other illustrations, in other words he is also hinting at those in GB, AP and DT.
NB - What ever his original intention may have been in making his collection of illustrations with ink block printing, the above message written on the front of MT suggests that at that point in his life he thought that his illustrations might become the focus of examination by other people. In which case what is in the collection is sufficient in his opinion for a stranger to discover his solution. Personally I don’t believe that any of the collection has enough information within it, to help towards that desired end - unless you include the illustrations in GB, AP and DT.