Moxon’s “Doctrine of Handy Works”

 Behold, the State of our Art, in 1683:

 

“How Pleasant and Healthey, this their Diversion is, their Minds and Bodies find; and how Harmless and Honest, all sober men may judge?”

Joseph Moxon, (who lived 1627-1691, and is no doubt familiar to you as Royal Hydrographer to King Charles, Fellow of the Royal Society and best-selling author of “Mathematicks Made Easie”) was among the first to illuminate the industry of his time in print. A man of the enlightenment, he followed Bacon’s reasoning that spreading previously arcane knowledge of the trades would improve not only the public’s understanding of them, but provide synergistic benefits to the trades themselves, and consequently all of society.

His “Mechanicks Exercises” remains fascinating today, and is one of our best windows into a vanished trade. Despite this, it remains frustratingly hard to find in print – so I present a link to it here, from the Library of the University of Michigan.

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