Posted 8 months ago
Amongst my collection of Victorian Writing Equipment I have several nice examples of writing slopes.
This one is a Brass Edged Rosewood Writing Slope with Brass Handles and lock furniture. It has excellent grain, colour and patina.
Although modern replacements; the brass cartouche, hinges and skiver are effective restorations. All other brassware is original. The flush fitting carrying handles on the sides of the slope are fully original and are so well executed, that when the handles are in the down position, they effectively dissappear into their respective recesses.
Inside it has two inkwell compartments, one with an ink well and the other with a pounce pot, pen tray and nib compartment. There are two full size compartments under each half of the writing surface, one for equipment and sundries, the other for correspondance.
The fully operating lock is made by the Company set up by famous locksmith Joseph Bramah who the later famous Silversmith Sampson Mordan apprenticed under. See the Bramah history below. The lock is hand stamped “BRAMAH”, “PATENT” and has four Royal Crowns stamped. It has two keys of differing lengths that have the usual Bramah presentation at their operating ends. It has a typical Bramah escutcheon.
The slope has the usual signs of wear and use commensurate with its age.
Dimensions: Width 14" Depth 9 1/2" Height 5 1/4"
THE HISTORY of JOSEPH BRAMAH:
Joseph Bramah (13 April 1748– 9 December 1814), born at Stainborough Lane Farm, Stainborough, Barnsley Yorkshire, England, was an inventor and locksmith. He is best known for having invented the hydraulic press. Along with William George Armstrong, he can be considered one of the two fathers of hydraulic engineering.
Joseph Bramah's early life:
He was the second son in the family of three sons and two daughters of Joseph Bramma (note the different spelling of the surname), a farmer, and his wife, Mary Denton. He was educated at the local school in Silkstone and on leaving school he was apprenticed to a local carpenter. On completing his apprenticeship he moved to London, where he started work as a cabinet-maker. In 1783 he married Mary Lawton of Mapplewell, near Barnsley, and the couple set up home in London. They subsequently had a daughter and four sons. The couple lived first at 124 Piccadilly, London but later moved to Eaton Street, Pimlico, London.
The improved water closet:
In London, Bramah worked for a Mr. Allen, installing water closets (toilets) which were designed to a patent obtained by Alexander Cumming in 1775. He found that the current model being installed in London houses had a tendency to freeze in cold weather. Although it was Allen who improved the design by replacing the usual slide valve with a hinged flap that sealed the bottom of the bowl, Bramah obtained the patent for it in 1778, and began making toilets at a workshop in Denmark Street, St Giles. The design was a success and production continued well into the 19th century.
His original water closets are still working in Osbourne House, Queen Victoria's home on the Isle of Wight.
The Bramah Locks Company:
After attending some lectures on technical aspects of locks, Bramah designed a lock of his own, receiving a patent for it in 1784. In the same year he started the Bramah Locks company at 124 Piccadilly, which is today based in Marylebone, London and Romford, Essex. The locks produced by his company were famed for their resistance to lock picking and tampering. Bramah received a second patent for a lock design in 1798.
Bramah Machine tools:
Partly due to the precision requirements of his locks, Bramah spent much time developing machine tools to assist manufacturing processes. He relied heavily on the expertise of Henry Maudslay whom he employed in his workshop from the age of 18. Between them they created a number of innovative machines that made the production of Bramah's locks more efficient, and were applicable to other fields of manufacture.
Just before Bramah died, his workshops also employed Joseph Clement who among other things made several contributions in the field of lathe design.
The Bramah hydraulic press:
Bramah's most important invention was the hydraulic press. The hydraulic press depends on Pascal's principle, that pressure throughout a closed system is constant. The press had two cylinders and pistons of different cross-sectional areas. If a force was exerted on the smaller piston, this would be translated into a larger force on the larger piston. The difference in the two forces would be proportional to the difference in area of the two pistons. In effect the cylinders act in a similar way that a lever is used to increase the force exerted. Bramah was granted a patent for his hydraulic press in 1795.
Bramah's hydraulic press had many industrial applications and still does today. Of the period of time, to which end the things told of here are referring, the field of hydraulic engineering was within the province of an almost unknown science, and Bramah together with William George Armstrong were the two pioneers in this field. The hydraulic press is still known as the Bramah Press after its inventor.
Bramah's Other inventions:
Bramah was a very prolific inventor, though not all of his inventions were as important as his hydraulic press. They included: a beer engine (1797), a planing machine (1802), a paper-making machine (1805), a machine for automatically printing bank notes with sequential serial numbers (1806), and a fountain pen (1809). He also patented the first extrusion process for making lead pipes and also machinery for making gun stocks (Patent No. 2652). His greatest contribution to engineering was his insistence on quality control. He realised that for engines to succeed, they would have to be machined to a much better standard than was the practice. He taught Arthur Woolf to machine engines to a close tolerance. This enabled Cornish engines to run with high-pressure steam, vastly increasing their output. Woolf became the leading Cornish steam engineer and his designs were adopted by all the engine designers of the day. The 15-HP engines of Watt and others of circa 1800 gave way to 450-HP engines by 1835. Bramah can be viewed as a founding father in industrial quality control.
The death of Joseph Bramah:
One of Bramah's last inventions was a hydrostatic press capable of uprooting trees. This was put to work at Holt Forest (Part of the famous "New Forest" where William The Conqueror had loved to hunt!) situate in the County of Hampshire. While superintending this work Bramah caught a cold, which developed into pneumonia. He died at Holt Forest on 9 December 1814. He was buried in the churchyard of St Mary's, Paddington, London, England.