Lathe of the Elector Max Emanuel of Bavaria
Programmable lathes for the mechanical processing of the precious material ivory are among the most sophisticated pieces of equipment in the history of pre-industrial technology. Princely patrons had these machines constructed from the 16th century onwards. Up until the 19th century, ornamental turning was regarded as a contemplative occupation and belonged to princely education of the European ruling houses, including the Wittelsbach, Wettin and Habsburg dynasties. In the mechanistic world view of absolutism, the activity at the lathe stood for the combination of knowledge and power. The sovereigns turning the lathe were even emulating God - the first 'turner' who created the world.