By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Mine Pumping in Agricola's Time and Later
Author: Multhauf, Robert P., 1919-2004
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mine Pumping in Agricola's Time and Later" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



  _Robert P. Multhauf_

_By Robert P. Multhauf_


_Coins are a source of information much used by historians. Elaborately
detailed mining landscapes on 16th-century German coins in the National
Museum, discovered by the curator of numismatics and brought to the
author's attention, led to this study of early mine-pumping devices._

THE AUTHOR: _Robert P. Multhauf is curator of Science and Technology,
Museum of History and Technology, in the Smithsonian Institution's
United States National Museum._

The habit of heavy reliance on a single source for the substance of the
history of Medieval and Renaissance mining techniques in Europe has led
to a rather drastic over-simplification of that history, a condition
which persists tenaciously in the recent accounts of Parsons, Wolf, and
Bromehead.[1] Our preoccupation with Agricola, who has been well known
to the English-language public since the Hoovers' translation of 1912,
seems to have inhibited the investigation of the development of the
machines he describes so elegantly. More seriously, the opinion that
mining techniques remained essentially the same for a century or two
beyond his time appears to have hardened into a conviction.[2]

The history of the technology of mining, as distinguished from
metallurgy, is largely a history of mechanization, and that
mechanization has until the last century consisted principally in the
development of what Agricola calls _tractoriae_--hauling machines. That
hauling machines of some complexity, Archimedian screws and a kind of
noria, were used by the Romans for dewatering mines has been known for
some time. Evidence of the survival of this technology beyond the fall
of Rome remains to be found, and it is generally agreed that mining
activity declined through the first millenium. The revival and extension
of mining in the central European areas of German settlement is thought
to have occurred from the 10th century, with an intensive development of
the region known to Agricola (Erzgebirge) in the 13th century.[3]

This revival appears to have paralleled in general the political and
cultural revival, but, as in any mining region, the exhaustion of easily
workable surface deposits marked a critical point, when the necessity of
deeper mining led to the construction of supported tunnels and the
introduction of machinery for removing ores and water from deep mines.
On the basis of revisions of capital structure and mining law which he
regards as inspired by the financial necessities of deep mining, Bechtel
dates this development from the mid-14th century.[4] The mid-14th
century situation is confused by the occurrence of the Black Death,
which reduced mining activity drastically, and the events of which
Bechtel speaks have been put as much as a century later.[5] In any case,
the development of deep-mining methods had clearly made considerable
progress in nonferrous mines when the _De re metallica_ was written, in

[Illustration: Figure 1.--BRUNSWICK SILVER 3-1/2 TALER, Johann
Friedrich, 1677. (_U. S. National Museum, Paul A. Straub coll.;
Smithsonian photo 43334-C._)]


    These large silver coins weighing up to 15 ounces were first issued
    in 1574 in Brunswick by Duke Julius (1568-1589) of the Wolfenbuttel
    line. Their historical background is rather unusual and interesting.

    In 1570 the Duke decided to increase the output of his silver mines
    in the Harz and arranged for the opening of three new mines. In
    order to insure the retention of a portion of this increased silver
    output under his control, the Duke decided to issue an entirely new
    kind of silver coin which he called "Loeser," meaning redeemer.
    These were larger than taler-size pieces, and were struck in
    denominations from 1-1/4 to 16 talers. The Duke ordered that each of
    his subjects was to purchase one of these large coins, the size of
    the coin to be acquired depending on the individual's wealth. The
    owners were not allowed to use these pieces in everyday trade, but
    could pawn them in case of dire need. They were expected to produce
    them at any time upon demand. Thus a means of hoarding, a "treasure
    piece," was created, and the risk of draining the country's wealth
    through replacement of good, full-weight silver coins with imported
    base currency was to some extent limited. At the same time, the Duke
    had a considerable sum of money at his disposal in case of

    Similar Loesers were issued up to 1688 by different rulers of
    Brunswick. Some of the later issues are commemorative in character
    and might have served for presentation purposes. The workmanship of
    the majority is exquisite. They portray personages real and ideal
    and ornate coats of arms, in addition to the elaborate mining
    landscapes shown here. The U. S. National Museum is fortunate in
    having a number of examples through the generosity of Mr. Paul A.

    For calling my attention to these coins, and for other invaluable
    assistance, I am indebted to the former curator of the numismatic
    collections of the U. S. National Museum, the late Stuart Mosher,
    and to the present curator, Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli.

    Figure 1 shows an overshot waterwheel driving through Stangenkunsten
    pumps in three separate shafts, each covered by the typical conical
    shaft house. It is possible that these shaft houses also cover horse
    whims used to operate bucket hoists such as that shown in the lower
    center. A house with three chimneys in the background may be the
    smelter. The horse over whose head the Deity holds a wreath is a
    symbol of Luneberg.

For a detailed description of the mechanical equipment of this era we
are largely indebted to Agricola. He classifies hauling machines into
four types; the ordinary bucket windlass, the piston (suction) pump, the
chain of dippers, and the rag and chain pump. Although the first three
had been known in antiquity, and the last perhaps a century before his
time,[6] their use in mining would appear to date from the mid-14th
century or later. His is not an historical account, and one who attempts
to compare it with others of contemporary or later times encounters a
difficulty in his use of descriptive Latin names rather than the common
German names used by most others. English and German editors have
interpreted them as follows:[7]

  _Latin_               _English_          _German_
  bulga                 water bucket       Wasserkubel, Kehrrad
  orbiculis             suction pump       Pumpe
  situlis               chain of dippers   Kannen (werke), Bulgenkunst[8]
  machina, quae pilis   rag and chain      Heinzenkunst, Taschenkunst[9]
    aquas hauriut         pump

[Illustration: Figure 2.--BRUNSWICK SILVER 1-1/2 TALER, Ernst August,
1688. (_U. S. National Museum, Paul A. Straub coll.; Smithsonian
photo 43334-A._)]

    Figure 2 shows two shaft-houses covering pumps driven by
    Stangenkunsten. The source of power, hidden by the curious "log
    cabin" at the right, was probably a waterwheel. I have not found
    evidence that the Stangenkunst was used to operate bucket hoists, as
    appears to be the case here. It will be noticed that the above and
    below ground portions of these illustrations do not correlate
    precisely. This coin, like the others, shows miners doing various
    things familiar from Agricola--divining, digging, carrying, and
    operating windlasses.

    Figure 3 exhibits the principal advantage of the Stangenkunst, in
    its utilization to connect a waterwheel located in a valley stream
    to driven machinery on the mountain some distance above. The
    lute-playing girl (Lautenspielerin) refers to the Lautental mine. A
    Stangenkunst (fig. 7) existed here as recently as 1930.

    The mines shown in figures 1-3 are in the Harz region.

    Figures 4 and 5 show the St. Anna mine in the Erzgebirge, near
    Freiberg, as illustrated on a medal in the Brunswick museum.
    Prominent in figure 4 is an aqueduct, one function of which is to
    supply a waterwheel in the house below, which in turn delivers power
    through the Stangenkunst to two open shafts. The reverse (fig. 5),
    an unusually fine view of the inner workings of a mine, shows, above
    ground, a typical horse whim driving a bucket windlass. Below ground
    is shown a crank-driven piston pump typical of those driven by
    Stangenkunst. In this case, however, it is driven by an underground
    vertical treadmill.

[Illustration: Figure 3.--BRUNSWICK SILVER 4 TALER, Ernst August, 1685.
(_U. S. National Museum, Paul A. Straub coll.; Smithsonian photo

[Illustration: Figure 4.--MEDAL, 1690, SHOWING ST. ANNA MINE, near
Freiberg. (_Photo courtesy of Stadtisches Museum, Braunschweig._)]

[Illustration: Figure 5.--REVERSE OF MEDAL shown in figure 4. (_Photo
courtesy of Stadtisches Museum, Braunschweig._)]

The resemblance of the German term for bag (Bulge) to the Latin term for
bucket (bulga) instead of the Latin term for bag (canalis), and the
presence of buckets (Kübeln), bags (Bulgen), pockets (Taschen), or cans
(Kannen) as components of three of Agricola's four categories of hauling
machines are reasons enough for the apparent superfluity of German
names, if not for his decision to avoid the use of German names. But it
should also be noted that the names sometimes refer to a pump and its
prime mover considered as a single machine. Such is the case with the
Kehrrad, a bucket windlass driven by a reversible waterwheel which
Agricola describes as his largest hauling machine.[10]

Agricola describes 23 hauling devices of these four types, the
diversity resulting generally from the application of three types of
prime movers, men, horses, and waterwheels, and in the endowment of each
in turn with a mechanical advantage in the form of gearing.[11] Although
he does not specify clearly the relative importance of the various
pumps, the majority (13) use man as the prime mover. He speaks of the
advantages of some, noting that the horse whim has a power two and a
half times that of the man windlass, and emphasizing the even greater
power available in flowing water "when a running stream can be diverted
to a mine." The most powerful machine then in use for deep mines appears
to have been the horse-powered rag and chain pump.

Such, then, were the important mining machines of this early period of
deep mining, according to the leading authority. But did they continue,
as has been claimed, to be the only important machines of the subsequent
century? G. E. Lohneyss,[12] writing a little over a half century after
the publication of _De re metallica_, declared:

     The old miners [alten Bergleute] had Heintzen, Kerratt,
     Bulgenkunst, Taschen-kunst, Pumpen, with which one lifted water
     with cans on pulleys or with a treadmill; and they devised and
     constructed these in which the poor people moved like cattle and
     wore themselves out. At that time they had powerful machines
     (Kunst) using swift water, although it cost much to erect and
     maintain them, and was very dangerous since an iron chain of a
     Bulgenkunst alone often weighed 200 centner [over 10 tons] and

     But today's artisan [jetzigen Künstler] far surpasses the old ...
     since we have in the present time invented many other mining
     machines; such as the _Stangenkunst mit dem krummen Zapffen_, which
     raises water at small cost over 100 Lachter [562 feet].

FELDKUNST, AND KUNSTKREUZ. From H. Calvör (see footnote 15).]

The Stangenkunst, which can be roughly translated as "rod work with
crank," was a piston pump driven through a crank and rods by a prime
mover located at a distant point. Agricola describes a crank-driven
piston pump, calling it a new machine invented ten years earlier.[13]
But it is not driven bya distant prime mover. Like his other
water-powered hauling machines it can only be used "when a running
stream can be diverted to a mine." So far as we can determine from
internal evidence, Agricola did not know the Stangenkunst.

Although the full development of the Stangenkunst came later, it was
apparently introduced in Agricola's time. Its introduction to the
Erzgebirge has been put as early as 1550.[14] According to another
authority it was introduced to the Harz in 1565 by one Heinrich
Eschenbach of Meissen.[15] Its significance is only made clear to us by
later authorities. As shown in figure 3 it was adapted to the
utilization of a distant stream, through the Feldstangen, an extended
horizontal series of reciprocating rods, and the Kunstkreuz (fig. 6), a
lever in the shape of a cross for changing at right angles the direction
of power transmission. These improvements may have been almost
contemporaneous with Agricola, as Calvör mentions the use of the
Feldkunst, which term signified the extended rods, as having been known
in 1565.

The disadvantage of moving the weight of a long extension of rods was
obviated, during the 17th century, through the use of a double set of
balanced rods, resembling a pantograph. At some later date the horse
whim was fitted with a crank and adapted to the Stangenkunst,[16] thus
permitting the establishment of a veritable power network, as suggested
in figure 1.

The Freiberg mine director Martin Planer reported in 1570 the
installation since 1557 of thirty-eight "Kunsten und Zeugen" in mines
under his charge. That these were water-powered machines is clear from
his remark that their cost was only 10 to 20 percent that of "Pferden
und Knechten."[17] It is likely that many if not most were
Stangenkunsten, for mining treatises of the 17th and 18th centuries
testify to the continuous extension of this mechanism.[18]

Perhaps the most striking evidence of its importance is its
representation on the illustrated coinage of the 17th century. These
multiple talers (figs. 1, 2, 3), happy products of the ingenious fiscal
policies of the Dukes of Brunswick, picture mining activity in the 17th
century no less elegantly than do the woodcuts of _De re metallica_ a
century earlier. The Stangenkunst received its most spectacular
application in France, in its application to the driving of the second-
and third-stage pumps in the famous waterworks at Marly (1681-88), but
its real importance is better illustrated in central Europe, by the
many descriptions and drawings showing its use in the mines, driving
machinery as distant as a mile[19] from the source of power.

From C. Matschoss, _Technische Kulturdenkmal_, Munich, 1932.]

It seems, therefore, that Lohneyss' "old miners" were those described by
Agricola, and that the mine-hauling machinery used in central European
mines changed in the century after him far more than has been
recognized.[20] This thesis may further cast some light on other
technological questions. The connection between the urgency of the
problem of mine drainage in England, and the invention of the steam
engine, has often been suggested.[21] Perhaps the "backwardness" of
Germany in steam-engine experimentation, and later in the introduction
of the Newcomen engine, was to some extent due to the adequacy of
existing machinery to meet the problem of mine flooding, for it is not
clear that this problem existed on the continent.[22]

VERSAILLES. From a print by de Fer, 1705. (_Smithsonian photo 45593._)]

A comparison of the techniques described by Agricola with those of a
century later suggests that this was a century of significant progress
in that earlier industrial revolution described by Mumford as his
"Eotechnic phase," characterized by "the diminished use of human beings
as prime movers, and the separation of the production of energy from its
application and immediate control."[23]


[1] W. B. Parsons, _Engineers and engineering in the Renaissance_,
Baltimore, 1939. Abraham Wolf, _A history of science, technology, and
philosophy in the 16th and 17th centuries_, New York, 1935; and _A
history of science, technology and philosophy in the eighteenth
century_, London, 1938. C. M. Bromehead, "Mining and quarrying to the
seventeenth century," in Charles Singer and others, _A history of
technology_, vol. 2, Oxford, 1956.

[2] According to Parsons (_op. cit._, footnote 1, p. 629) the
introduction of machinery worked by animals and falling water, "radical
improvements" of the 15th century, fixed the development of the art
"until the eighteenth, and, in some respects, even well into the
nineteenth century." Wolf in his _History of science ... in the
eighteenth century_ (p. 629, see footnote 1) agrees, saying that "apart
from [the steam engine] mining methods remained [during the 18th
century] essentially similar to those described in Agricola's _De re
metallica_." Bromehead (_op. cit._, footnote 1, p. 22), in referring to
the date 1673 also sees "no appreciable change in methods of mining
since Agricola."

[3] Parsons, _op. cit._ (footnote 1), p. 179. T. A. Rickard, _Man and
metals_, New York, 1932, vol. 2, pp. 519-521.

[4] Heinrich Bechtel, _Wirtschaftstil des deutschen Spätmittelalters_,
Munich, 1930, pp. 202-203. Bechtel calls this one of the most
revolutionary industrial developments of the middle ages.

[5] Rickard (_op. cit._, footnote 3, pp. 547-554, 561) also speaks of a
decline through the exhaustion of surface deposits, but dates the
revival 1480-1570. He supports this conclusion by statistics on the
leading mine at Rammelsberg, which was unproductive from the Black Death
(1347) to 1450, and only slightly active before 1518.

[6] According to F. M. Feldhaus (_Die Technik_, Leipzig and Berlin,
1914, p. 833.), a manuscript illustration of this type of pump, which he
calls Schöpfkolbenkette, appears in the Mariano Codex latinus 197, B.
180, dated 1438, in the Munich Hofbibliothek.

[7] Based on a comparison of the following editions of Agricola, _De re
metallica_: Froben, Basel, 1556 (in Latin; the first edition); _The
Mining Magazine_, London, 1912 (English translation by H. C. and L. H.
Hoover); VDI, Berlin, 1928 (German translation by Carl Schiffner).

[8] The emergence of the term Kunst in German mining terminology is
connected with the application of water power, especially to pumping
(see Heinrich Veith, _Deutsches Berg-wörterbuch_, Breslau, 1870, article

[9] According to Veith (_op. cit._, footnote 8, p. 306), B. Rössler, in
his _Speculum metallurgiae politissimum_ (Dresden, 1700, p. 41) says
that the Taschenkunst (pocket-work) was used with a pipe, like the rag
and chain pump, and the translator of the German (1928) edition of _De
re metallica_ also uses Heinzen and Taschen interchangeably. Calvör and
others, however, seem to use Taschenkunst for the ordinary chain of
dippers, which seems better suited to its literal meaning.

[10] Agricola, _op. cit._ (footnote 7), ed. Hoover, p. 199. His
contemporary and fellow-townsman Mathesius equates the Kehrrad to the
Bulgenkunst (_Sarepta_, p. 145, Nurnberg, 1571). According to Veith
(_op. cit._, footnote 8, p. 286), Sebastian Münster in his
_Cosmographei ..._ (p. 381, Basel, 1558), had previously mentioned its
use in the mines of Meissen; and its introduction has been put as early
as 1500 by Otto Vogel ("Christopher Pohlem und seine Beziehungen zum
Harzer Bergbäu," _Beiträge zur Geschichte der Technik und Industrie_,
1913, vol. 5, p. 324.)

[11] Agricola, _op. cit._ (footnote 7), ed. Hoover, pp. 160-199.

[12] G. E. Lohneyss, _Bericht von Bergwerken_, 1619?, n. p., p. 3.

[13] Agricola, _op. cit._ (footnote 7), ed. Hoover, pp. 184-185. The
crank was centuries old at this time, and had been applied to pumping
earlier than the time mentioned by Agricola, although perhaps not in
mining. A drawing dated 1405 shows an Archimedian screw turned by a
crank (Feldhaus, _op. cit._, footnote 6, p. 834). The _Mittelalterliche
Hausbuch_ (ed. H. T. Bossert and W. F. Storck, Leipzig, 1912, Tafel 32),
a German description of technology that appeared in 1480, shows an
arrangement very like that described by Agricola, although not in mining

[14] O. Fritsche and A. Wagenbreth, "Die Wasserhaltungs-maschinen bei
Agricola und sein Einfluss auf ihre weitere Entwicklung," in _Deutsche
Akademie der Wissenschaft zu Berlin_, _Georgius Agricola_, (East)
Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1953, p. 112.

[15] Hennig Calvör, _Acta historico-chronologico-mechanica circa
Metallurgiam ..._, Braunschweig, 1763, pp. 36-37.

[16] I have been unable to find an early reference to this innovation,
which appears in a sketch of 1784-85 illustrating Conrad Matschoss',
"Die Maschinen des deutschen Berg- und Hüttenwesens vor 100 Jahren,"
_Beiträge zur Geschichte der Technik und Industrie_ (1909), Band I, p.
7. Its introduction may be connected with the appearance of the term
Rosskunst for the horse windlass, known earlier as the Göpel.

[17] "Bericht des Bergverwalters Martin Planer über den Stand des
Freiberger Bergbaues im Jahre 1570," ed. R. Wengler, _Mittheilungen
Freiberger Altertumsverein_, 1898, vol. 35, pp. 75-83.

[18] The description of the Stangenkunst in its various modifications is
one of the chief topics of the previously cited work of Calvör (footnote
15), and from his and other references it is clear that the subject was
also treated extensively by such earlier writers as Lohneyss (1617) and
Rössler (1700).

[19] Fritsche and Wagenbreth, _op. cit._ (footnote 14), p. 112.

[20] The hauling of ores, as opposed to water, seems to have remained as
shown by Agricola until the end of the 17th century. In 1694, however,
the famous Swedish engineer Christopher Polhem built at Falun a
water-powered conveyer system which brought the ore from the point of
origin in the mine to the smelter in a single operation, terminating
with the automatic unloading of the buckets (Vogel, _op. cit._, footnote
10, p. 306).

[21] Dickinson, H. W., _A short history of the steam engine_, New York,
n. d., p. 3.

[22] In 1673 Edward Browne visited Hungary and the Erzgebirge. His
report on the trip, _A brief account of some travels in diverse parts of
Europe_ (2nd ed., London, 1685, p. 170), says little about machinery,
but does not mention flooding as a serious problem. Of an 84-fathom mine
called Auff der Halsbrucker, near Freiberg, he says "they are not so
much troubled with water, and have very good engines to draw water out."
Yet the chain of dippers and rag and chain pump were evidently fallen
into disuse, as they do not appear among the mining machines reported by
Fritsche and Wagenbreth as having been described by Lohneyss (1617) or
Rössler (1700); and Fritsche and Wagenbreth declare that German
hydraulic machinery was able to compete with the steam engine in mine
dewatering for some time into the 19th century (_op. cit._, footnote 14,
pp. 111, 112).

[23] Lewis Mumford, _Technics and civilization_, New York, 1934, p. 112.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

Printer's inconsistencies in hyphenation usage have been retained.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mine Pumping in Agricola's Time and Later" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.