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Armstrong Metalcrafts Bookstore

This is an informal collection of books related to the products and services provided by Armstrong Metalcrafts. Some may be out of print or difficult to find.

If you'd like to suggest an addition to this list, please use our Contact Form to let us know your idea.


        Book Cover

Geared to the Stars

Henry King and John Millburn's "Geared to the Stars: The Evolution of Planetariums, Orreries, and Astronomical Clocks" is a wonderful collection of information about mechanical models of the universe and is worth every effort to acquire. The immense span of subject matter is a bit challenging, but if you're going to own only one book, this is the one to get.

Wheelwright of the Heavens

John Millburn's "Wheelwright of the Heavens: The Life and Work of James Ferguson, F.R.S." is a fascinating description of James Ferguson's life and accomplishments. He is known for his mechanical models of the solar system, clocks, globes, and more. This fascinating self-trained astronomer made immense contributions through his books and demonstration mechanisms, and could be called one of the first major figures to popularize science.


This book appeals to almost anyone interested in popular astronomy, astronomical mechanical devices, scientific instruments, the history of clocks - and even the history of aristocratic and prestigious families. It contains information and references to help readers who want to make (or buy) their own orrery. The story of the Boyles is not just relevant to a tiny corner of Ireland, but spans the world. "Orrery" highlights the process of discovery and humankind's universal fascination with the heavens.

History of the Telescope

Originally published in 1955, Henry King's "History of the Telescope" remains the definitive work on the subject. It's a great companion to "Geared to the Stars".

A Short History of Observatories

Dr. Marian Donnelly's "A Short History of Observatories" was inspired in part by her friendship with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, for whom the Chandra X-Ray Observatory was named. Telescopes have complex housing needs, far from the simple original wooden platforms of antiquity. This book discusses design considerations and stylistic consequences of observatories over a great span of history.


Computing Before Computers

This book is a delightful overview of the history of computing showing the best of the major milestones up to the 1990 publication date. It stands out among others for the clarity of its presentation.

The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann

Herman Goldstine worked on the ENIAC, which was the signature achievement that for once and forever heralded stored program digital computation's performance advantages over mechanical or electro-mechanical systems. Goldstine collaborated with John von Neumann after World War II to develop EDVAC, which was the successor to ENIAC. This text is told from the perspectives of historian and participant in a most engaging fashion.

A History of Algorithms: From the Pebble to the Microchip

The history of computing is founded in no small part on the development of algorithms. This book provides a fascinating historical perspective to the techniques of such mathematicians as Archimedes, Omar Khayyam, Newton, Euler and Gauss.

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Mathematics

This is an amazing collection of essays presenting a 5000 year overview of the history of mathematics.


In 1617, just before he died, Napier published Rabdologia, seu Numerationis per Virgulas Libri Duo: Cum Appendice de expecitissimo Multiplicationis Promptuario. Quibus accessit et Arithmeticae Loaclis Liber Unus, commonly referred to as "The Rabdologia", or Rabdology. This translation by William Frank Richardson is somewhat difficult to find, but well worth the effort.

John Napier and the Invention of Logarithms, 1614: A Lecture by E.W. Hobson

The English mathematician Ernest William Hobson wrote a wonderful introduction to John Napier's signature publication about logarithms. Written in 1914, this is a great addition to a collection of books about the history of mathematics.

John Napier: Logarithm John

This little book gives us a nice introduction to the famous Scottish mathematician John Napier. Illustrations accompany descriptions of Napier's life and inventions.

Mechanism Collections

The Elements of Practical Mechanism and Machine Tools

Originally written by T. Baker in 1867, this book covers nearly every mechanism found in Victorian times. The descriptions include definitions and formulas. The first section covers fundamental mechanical design up through parallel motions. The second section covers machines at a larger scale for many purposes, finishing up with metal cutting machinery.

This book is richly illustrated with crisp line drawings.

507 Mechanical Movements: Mechanisms and Devices

This is an entertaining collection of tiny 19th century mechanical movement illustrations by Henry T. Brown first published in 1868. If you're looking for a mechanism to change rotating motion to sliding motion, or just looking for something to tinker with, this is an addictive trip back to a time when cams and links got jobs done before the advent of stepper motors and linear drives.

1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices and Appliances

Gardner Dexter Hiscox attempted to catalog as many mechanisms as possible beginning in 1899. Each entry has a small line drawing and a tiny description. This is a wonderful trip through the history of mechanism, filled with "I've got to build one of those" moments and "so that's how they did it" moments. This isn't a technical manual, and will likely send many readers in search of more detail for an unanticipated discovery.

Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices

Neil Sclater has the most up-to-date collection of mechanisms ever published. Extending the tradition of Brown and Hiscox, this contemporary survey of mechanisms has been updated with robot, rapid prototyping, renewable energy and simulation topics.


Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery, and the Genius of the Royal Society

The Royal Society is the world's oldest scientific academy. The society was founded 28 November, 1660 by a group of scholars after an inspiring lecture by Christopher Wren. The promise of the society was to promote the accumulation of useful knowledge, and it was granted permission to publish in 1662 in the Royal Charter granted by King Charles II.

James Ferguson was a member of the Royal Society, and gave numerous presentations during his tenure.

Bill Bryson has assembled a delightful collection of essays by a diverse collection of writers that celebrates the Royal Society, now over 350 years old.

The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World

Some of the greatest minds in history gathered at the end of the 17th century believed that the universe followed precise, mathematical laws - which were in contradiction to the popular conception that the world was falling apart from disease, religious wars, and even the Great Fire of London. These men set the course of the Royal Society and science itself.

The Clockwork Universe is a compelling account of the discoveries of Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Leibniz. Their struggle to resolve these new discoveries in the context of angels, alchemy, and astrology is one of the greatest stories in the making of the modern world.

The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution

James Hannam shows how the scholarship of the Middle Ages laid the foundations for modern science. Myths of the Inquisition, the Flat Earth, and the theology of the Catholic Church are laid to rest in an enlightening account.

The Illustrated Longitude

One of the greatest scientific problems from the 15th through 18th centuries was the inability of finding one's location at sea. The financial losses from ships lost at sea or destroyed on unexpected rocks were sufficiently large that Britain's Parliament offered a reward of £20,000 to anyone whose method or device worked. The scientific establishment focused on a celestial answer, but the prize was won by John Harrison (1693-1776), who built the first marine chronometer that told perfect time.

The Illustrated Longitude is a richly illustrated update of Dava Sobel's original Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time co-written with William Andrewes.

The Scientists

John Gribbin has created an imaginative account of scientific development over the past five centuries, focusing on the works of individual scientists. Beginning with Copernicus, the book gives new life to the works of many of the most famous scientists and some less well known. This anecdotal narrative "connects the dots" from one achievement to another in a compelling manner that leaves the reader with a fresh new perspective of our technological history.

Scientific Instruments

Building Scientific Apparatus

A classic publication recently updated, Building Scientific Apparatus is an invaluable guide for everyone from the beginning experimenter to senior scientists.

The Adams of Fleet Street, Instrument Makers to King George III

John Millburn's "The Adams of Fleet Street, Instrument Makers to King George III: Instrument Makers to King George III" describes the work of instrument making business of George Adams and his two sons from 1734 to 1817.

Scientific Instruments, 1500-1900: An Introduction

This is a must-have book for anyone with an interest in the history of scientific instruments. Richly illustrated, the development of mathematical, optical, and medical devices made of brass, ivory, and wood are described.

"This is a magisterial yet compact survey of the entire field of scientific instruments, the best such treatment that I know."
--Bruce Stephenson, Adler Planetarium

Early Scientific Instruments: Europe, 1400-1800

Anthony John Turner's classic work is invaluable on a number of levels. In addition to the broad treatment of the subject, there's a comprehensive list of famous instrument makers and the dates of what they made. There are many wonderful photos of the finest instruments of the age.

Making Scientific Instruments in the Industrial Revolution

One could be forgiven for having the impression that most scientific instruments were made in London. Dr. Morrison-Low provides a broad new perspectives on the central role of instrument makers from Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol, and York was to the Industrial Revolution. By the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851, the provincial firms were presenting their wares to an international audience. This is a must-read for enthusiasts of the history of scientific instruments.

Early American Scientific Instruments and Their Makers

Silvio Bedini has produced a survey of the colonial scientific instrument makers that focused on "mathematical" instruments. The book has three parts: The Mathematical Practitioners, Instruments of Metal, and Instruments of Wood. The appendix is a valuable source of reference information for collectors and historians.

Scientific Instruments in Art and History

Henri Michel's book is a richly illustrated historical introduction to scientific instruments. The craftsmen who made early scientific instruments often used expensive materials and elaborate ornamentation. The instruments in this book reflect the best of the intersection of art and science. The sections are Basic Elements, Measuring the Earth, Measuring the Heavens, Measurement of Time, and Physical Measurements.

Scientific Instruments of the 17th & 18th Centuries and Their Makers

(Excerpted from the book jacket) Maurice Daumas deals with the history of the development of scientific instruments on two levels. First, the general pre-conditions are established, i.e. those factors operating in the societies of the time which permitted men, ideas, finance and necessity to coincide in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and lead to such an unprecedented flowering of scientific achievement. Second, a consideration of how these general conditions made themselves felt in the workshops themselves.

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