Reuleaux Collection of Mechanisms and Machines at Cornell University

Franz Reuleaux created over 800 models of mechanisms to embody his basic machine elements, and he authorized a German company, Gustav Voigt Mechanische Werkstatt, in Berlin, to manufacture over 300 of these models for technical schools to use in teaching inventors and engineers about machines. By 1907, 368 models were available in the Voigt catalog. Cornell's first president, Andrew Dickson White, acquired a collection of 266 Reuleaux models for the university in 1882. 220 of these cast iron and brass models are still owned by Cornell's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering - the most complete extant set of the Reuleaux mechanisms in the world.

The Cornell Reuleaux Collection contains numerous kinematic mechanisms for rotary and reciprocating engines for both steam and internal combustion, as well as mechanisms for producing mathematical functions, which are related to the early history of calculation machines and later computer engineering. The Collection includes a dozen working clock escapement mechanisms, representing inventions that span over 500 years, from the early verge and foliot escapement, to the gravity escapement employed in London's Big Ben.

At Cornell today, Reuleaux's models are used in the teaching of design, dynamics, robotics, art, and architecture, as well as in historical research. K-MODDL will make the collection available to educators, researchers, and students far beyond the Cornell campus

In November 2002, the Reuleaux Collection of Mechanisms and Machines at Cornell University was designated a National Mechanical Engineering Historic Collection by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers History and Heritage Committee (http://www.asme.org/history/hhc.html).

For more about the Cornell Reuleaux Collection, see Francis C. Moon, "The Reuleaux Collection of Kinematic Mechanisms at Cornell University" (July 1999): http://kmoddl.library.cornell.edu/facets/moon61899.htm


Franz Reuleaux


Letter from Reuleaux to White on the purchase of models


Andrew Dickson White