Engineering & Technology

Ewbank, Thomas | The World a Workshop; or, The Physical Relationship of Man to the Earth.

  • First and only edition of this unusual philosophical tract on the relationship between humans and the natural world.

    Author Thomas Ewbank (1792-1870) was born in Britain and in 1819 emigrated to the US, where he invented methods for tinning lead, made significant improvements to steam safety valves, and published several books on hydraulics. He was appointed United States Commissioner of Patents in 1849 and served in that role until 1852. The World a Workshop was “a kind of culmination of the imperial tradition that had long made nature subservient to man’s needs and reason. According to Ewbank... the earth and its productions have been expressly fitted out ‘for the cultivation and application of chemical and mechanical science as the basis of human development.’ The unity of ‘the general economy of the world’ he took as evidence that the planet ‘was designed for a Factory’, furnished by ‘the Great Engineer’ with all the equipment of a complete machine shop, heated by a gigantic furnace as its core, and ready for its chief tenant and manager to go to work... God must be actively emulated in his role of ‘mechanician’ rather than worshipped in spiritual passivity...” (Worster, Nature’s Economy).

  • New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1855.

    Octavo. Original purple cloth blocked with an octagonal floral pattern, titles to spine gilt, brown coated endpapers. Pencilled ownership signature to the front blank. Minor wear at the extremities, particularly the base of the spine, spine and edges of boards faded, edges of textblock toned, occasional small spots and marks to the contents, minor dampstain in the gutter between pages 30 and 45, crease to pages 97 through 120. Very good condition.