Monday, 13 November 2017

The “great craftsman phrase” interpreted.

What follows is my interpretation of the “great craftsman phrase”.  In his Apologia Poetica, Bessler included many clues, some encoded and some merely ambiguously phrased so that getting the true meaning from each was a struggle.  The one I discuss here is one of the most puzzling, however in the following explanation I hope that the meaning becomes clear.
He wrote, “a great craftsman would be he who, as one pound falls a quarter, causes four pounds to shoot upwards four quarters.”  This curious phrase seems on the face of it to be nonsense and yet by picking it apart one can get at the meaning.   What Bessler sought to do was to tell us what to do but disguise it from the casual reader; however it has turned out more difficult than perhaps he anticipated.
Note that within the quote he mentions that there are five weights, one plus four, and each one is equal to one pound.  Secondly, one pound falls a quarter.  How do we define what he meant by a quarter? In this case he was referring to a clock - something he also included in the first drawings in both Grundlicher Bericht and Das Triumphirende - and a quarter of an hour or fifteen minutes covers 90 degrees.  But how could this single right angle fall cause “ four pounds to shoot upwards four quarters”? 
There has been so much discussion about what this brief phrase means, and much puzzlement – and yet once you know what it really means, it is very simple.  We saw in the first part that the word ‘quarter', referred to, not just 90 degrees but also to a clock.  In the second part the word ‘quarter' also refers to a clock but this time he has confused us by using the words ‘four quarters’. ‘Four quarter’s equals ‘one whole hour’.  Each hour on a clock is divided into 30 degrees, so the words ‘four quarters’ meaning ‘one hour’ as used here equals thirty degrees.  To paraphrase Bessler’s words, “a great craftsman would be he who, as one pound falls 90 degrees, causes each of the other four pounds to shoot upwards 30 degrees.”  

You might think that that is unremarkable and wouldn't achieve the result we seek, but as with all Bessler information you have to work at it and I have more information to share on this phrase, but at this point I will just say that it is not necessary for the weight being lifted to rise as far as it fell at this point in rotation.
You might also think it would have been better to have said that one pound falls 90 degrees, causes one pound to shoot upwards 30 degrees”, but that would have removed the information that five weights, and therefore five mechanisms were involved, so it had to be four weights plus the one.  Also do not assume that I am saying that there were only five weights involved, there are more, another five for each of the scissor mechanisms.
This removes the problem of lifting four weights, or just one weight, higher than the same weight falls.


  1. Hello, John, I confess I do not understand quite well: what do you mean, writing "Each hour on a clock is divided into 30 degrees"?

  2. 12 (hours) x 30 degrees = 360 degrees, therefore 1 hour = 30 degrees

    1. Thanks anon. Michel I did not explain that properly, my apologies. Sometimes when I write my brain is ahead and I tend to explain in a kind of shorthand!.


    2. Thanks, Anon and John. Everything is clear, now!

  3. Your initial statements are straight forward and indisputable.

    “a quarter of an hour or fifteen minutes covers 90 degrees”

    “the word ‘quarter', referred to, not just 90 degrees but also to a clock”

    From these statements we can write the equations

    1 quarter = 1/4 hour = 15 minutes = 90 degrees

    4 quarters = 1 hours = 60 minutes = 360 degrees

    Your statements that follow are so conflicting and confusing that I don’t even know where to begin.

    “Each hour on a clock is divided into 30 degrees, so the words ‘four quarters’ meaning ‘one hour’ as used here equals thirty degrees.”

    “a great craftsman would be he who, as one pound falls 90 degrees, causes each of the other four pounds to shoot upwards 30 degrees.”

    I hope you correct your post so we can get a better understanding of what you are trying to propose.

    1. I don’t see the problem. The whole point is that I think Bessler sought to confuse by first using a quarter to mean quarter of an hour or 15 minutes or 90 degrees, and then by writing four quarters he meant one hour which on the clock would be either 360 degrees or 30 degrees. In my opinion 360 degrees doesn’t make sense but 30 degrees does.


  4. John is giving his interpretation of Beesler's statement. The original is likely a play on words by Bessler, that would be obvious in hindsight presumably.

    John is making the distinction that it could be more than just a routine one dimensional play on words but also be a two dimensional reference back to a clock face, as supported by him in previous findings and discussion.

  5. Hi John,

    thank you for sharing your insights in this IMHO very essential phrase.
    I definetely agree with you that Bessler meant an arc with the quarter.
    The second part with the clock is a very creative suggestion to deal with
    the problem of lifting something around 4x90deg. Wich usually ends where
    it starts.

    Because I think Bessler was a real nitpicker when choosing his words
    lets see what Bessler told us:

    “a great craftsman would be he who, as one pound falls 90 degrees,
    causes each of the other four pounds to shoot upwards 30 degrees.”

    Here I want to remark, that this is not what Bessler told us.
    I haven't read your translation of Besslers Apologia and you may have
    omitted some.
    The original wording is:

    Der wird ein großer Künstler heissen
    wer ein schwer Ding leicht hoch kann schmeissen.
    Und wenn ein Pfund ein Viertel fällt
    es vier Pfund hoch vier Viertel schnellt.

    And I would like to translate it as follows:

    A great craftsman would be
    He, who can throw a heavy thing easily upwards
    And if one pound falls one quarter
    it (schnellt) upwards four pounds four quarters.

    The word (schnellt) is not easy for me to translate.
    It is german for springlike movement, moving with inertia, quick movement
    synonyms are to katapult, so sling.
    My translation may be faulty.
    You can look up the meaning in the german Duden and try some
    alternative translations. The meaning of schnellt/schnellen did not
    change in the last centuries. It is just unusual these days.

    So there are two details which should make us think.
    1) throw a heavy thing upwards
    2) schnellt

    To throw - schmeissen, werfen - means to let something go.
    There is no connection to the thrower when something is thrown.
    And schnellen means: Make it fast. Gain speed and then (let) go.

    I want to offer an easy solution to move something around 360deg
    and lift it: Sling it. A circular movement without constant radius, a spiral.
    BTW - this is what you can clearly see in Besslers logo.

    Just my 2 cents.

  6. " hour ... would be either 360 degrees or 30 degrees"

    There is no foundation for making the claim that one hour could be either 360 degrees or it could be 30 degrees.

    1. I’m suggesting that if a weigh falls a quarter it may mean the distance in an arc equivalent to the distance a minute hand moves in quarter of n hour. But when Bessler says four quarter he means one hour or the distance the hour hand moves in one hour, or thirty degrees.

      If he meant 360 degrees which to my mind is as impossible as suggesting that one pound lifted four pound four times as high, then he must have meant 30 degrees, which BTW will be confirmed in a later post.


  7. Another interpretation has come to me.
    Couldn't it be:
    "One pound falling 90 degrees is enough to make the whole wheel (with all the other pounds) turn 360 degrees"?

    1. Yes Michel, and that would also support the four pounds rising four quarters.


  8. Could we have the reference of the quote in Apologia Poetica : page, chapter...

    1. AP1, Chapter XLIIL, P82.

      thanks for your interest

  9. Thanks John, I just got it. The hour hand moves 30 degrees in one hour. Well that's a play on words as well that I was just not getting.

  10. 'Sling it. A circular movement without constant radius' is interesting comment, maybe a sprung curve goes with his 'bow, twang, shoot' comments, althought so does a scissor if sprung (twangs, is bow like)

  11. JOHN, No one want's to here it, but, I think he is describing a slider, Sam Peppiatt


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