Agostino Ramelli’s Bookwheel
And where can I get one?
The bookwheel, an alternative version of the revolving bookstand, is a device designed to allow one person to read a variety of heavy books in one location with ease.
The books are rotated vertically much like a Ferris wheel (as opposed to a flat, rotating table surface). This device was invented by Italian military engineer Agostino Ramelli in 1588.
To ensure that the books remained at a constant angle, Ramelli incorporated an epicyclic gearing arrangement, a complex device that had only previously been used in astronomical clocks. Ramelli undoubtedly understood that gravity could have worked just as effectively (as it does with a Ferris wheel), but the gearing system allowed him to display his mathematical prowess.
Top photo from the Venice Architecture Biennale in 1986 where architect Daniel Libeskind recreated a version of Captain Agostino Ramelli’s “bookwheel” reading machine.