Zonca, Vittorio

b. c. 1568 Italy
d. 1603 Italy
Italian architect who wrote a book on machines.
All that is known of Zonca is included on the frontispiece of the book that is his only claim to fame. He is there described as architect to the "Magnificent Community of Padua". He compiled a book on machines entitled Novo teatro de machine ed edificii (New Display of Machines and Edifices), illustrated with numerous fine engravings. It was printed in Padua in 1607, four years after his death, by Francesco Bertelli, who said of the book that it "came into my hands", as though he knew nothing of the author.
During the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a number of illustrated books on technical subjects appeared, compiled by knowledgeable and educated authors. These books greatly helped the spread of information about the technical arts throughout Europe. There were several books on mechanical devices, notably those by Ramelli, Besson and Zonca. In some ways, Zonca's is the most interesting, for it seems closest to the mechanical practice of the time. Several of the machines he describes are referred to as being in use in Padua or Venice and he suggests ways of improving them. The range of machines is wider than in other similar works and includes pumps, cranes, powder mills, printing and bookbinding presses and textile machines. Perhaps the most interesting of these is the water-driven silk-threading machine, since some of its components resemble those in use in the twentieth century. Spinning mills were widely used in the silk industry in sixteenth-century Italy, and Zonca offers a full description of one. He also shows the first example of an oblique treadwheel, driven by oxen for the grinding of grain. Even so, despite all the practical detail, the book ends, like others of its kind, with fantasy, in a description of a perpetual-motion machine.
Further Reading
A.G.Keller, 1964, A Theatre of Machines, London: Chapman \& Hall (provides brief details and illustrations from the books by Ramelli, Besson and Zonca).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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