The work now presented to the public, in its complete form,
will, it is presumed, recommend itself to general attention,
as well from its novelty as from the importance of the
subjects of which it treats. Of all the numerous
Dictionaries of Arts and Sciences published in this country,
there is no one that bears any resemblance to "The Circle of
the Mechanical Arts."
In France, indeed, there have been works of the same kind,
but they are all executed on too large a scale to become
generally useful; and, by their price, they are necessarily
confined to the libraries of the rich, or to the
repositories of the learned, which have been founded and
maintained at the public expense.
Those for whom such works
are chiefly adapted, can rarely obtain even a sight of them,
and they are thus almost entirely destitute of that utility
in improving the arts and manufactures, for which they were
Hence has arisen the difficulty and
those obstacles which the editor of this volume has met with
in seeking information on the various topics that have come
In almost all instances he has found
persons engaged in trade extremely unwilling to communicate
the processes and manipulations which distinguish their
several arts; and, in the course of his inquiries, he had
frequently to regret that those who were most disposed to
afford him assistance were, from want of all literary habits
and practice, utterly incapable of rendering him that aid
which he could have hoped for by the communication of their
ideas in writing.
Many persons refused him help lest they
should be thought to betray the secrets of their trade, and
others were equally reluctant to enter into the nature of
their profession, fearing that a free communication of their
own thoughts would expose their ignorance of its principles,
or would prove that its excellence did not depend upon any
thing secret, or that could be concealed.
Without, however, troubling the reader with a further
enumeration of the difficulties which have beset the editor
in his pursuits, and impeded his progress in the attainment
of a practical knowledge, he will proceed briefly to state
some peculiar features of the work which he has,
notwithstanding the hindrances thrown in his way, at length,
The "Mechanical Exercises," published by Moxon, more than a
century ago, have become exceedingly scarce.
respects, it has been the wish of the editor of the "Circle"
to follow the example set him by his precursor, yet he has
been ambitious of surpassing him in the extent and variety
of information contained in his book. Mr. Moxon treated
almost exclusively of the arts and trades connected with
building ; the editor of the Circle, disdaining so limited a
plan, has taken a much more extensive range, and included,
in his work, practical treatises on a great variety of other
manual arts, trades and manufactures.