Surprise! Nothing to do with organised noise or performance, except perhaps through the tenuous link of structure and form.
This book is the fruit of some 30 years of original research - and collecting. There was no history, so I wrote it. Published: March 2016 by The Crowood Press.
The Adjustable Spanner is the product of thirty years’ collecting and original research, fired by Ron Geesin’s acquisition of the SLIK adjustable spanner that hung in his father’s garage. This dovetailed elegantly into his fascination for mechanisms, from propelling pencils to cylinder phonographs and gramophones – and to the plumb-bobs swinging on his desk.
At car boot sales in the 1980s, Ron was searching for good jazz on 78rpm records when he noticed odd rusty heads poking out of buckets and promptly succumbed to the collector’s disorder. Within these pages is the result of his findings, stemming from the 3,000 UK specimens he has now collected. The Industrial Revolution started in Great Britain – and so did these avidly abused tools, in support of it. No history of adjustable spanners has been written before – predictably, you will say – so here it is.
Ron has researched GB patents from 1841 onwards and delved into the labyrinthine mysteries of Registered Designs at the National Archives, gathering material from manufacturers’ and dealers’ catalogues, leaflets, magazines and trade directories. The expansion of information on the internet, coupled with his previous knowledge of family genealogy, has helped him to research as well the eventful lives of the inventors and makers, filling in some inexcusable gaps in British engineering history.
At the core of this book is a concise history of this much-maligned tool. Serious and comical observations parallel its chequered life, from its bent beginnings in the blacksmith’s shop to over-designed and lovingly engineered treasures from the small Birmingham machinist. Around this core are discussions and findings about components and construction on the practical side, and patents, registered designs and trade marks on the design protection side. The reasons for erratic choices and changes of name are also probed. Emerging from the history, we take a closer look at uses and especially abuses, immerse ourselves in an analysis of types and styles, and dive deeply into the histories of the inventors and makers.
You will be amazed at the engineering diversity required to produce these most fanciful but essential supports to the Industrial Revolution. They are animated sculptures, gossiping to themselves about their misalignment along the timeline of human progress, now clamouring for attention when it’s nearly too late, their pockmarked and worm-eaten corpses holding so much history.