Between 1774 and 1778 Jan Verbruggen and his son Peter, installed a revolutionary horizontal boring machine or Lathe in the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. Since Jan was an accomplished artist next to his engineering skills, he produced 50 detailed drawings of his new machine. These 50 drawings are called The Foundry Drawings. Some are shown below. All drawings measure about 40×20 cm’s. Given the perfect perspective and detailed positioning, we assume a camera obscura was used to produce the drawings. The building in which the installation was built, still exists in Greenwich including the house built for the Verbruggens to live in. Below you see a selection of 11 of the drawings showing the gun-founding process and the innovative boring machine.
In the 1950’s Mr. Thade Semeijns de Vries van Doesburgh, gave a presentation to his Rotary Club in The Hague. One of those present was Carel De Beer (Professor Mechanical Engineering at the university of Eindhoven) who took a keen interest in the Foundry Drawings and the Horizontal Boring Machine of the Verbruggens. This later culminated in the publication of The Art of Gunfounding in 1991. (ISBN 0-948864-07-9)
The provenance of the Foundry Drawings is still under debate. Some argue that given Jan’s artistic skills (see pages “Jan as a Painter” and “The Travel Diaries”), he is the autor. This theory is also supported by the fact that the drawings were part of the Verbruggen Inheritance and their private property.
The other point of view is that the drawings were actually commissioned by the Ordinance Committee and that the author is Paul Sandby.