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This is a copy of the original Signature of Leonardo da Vinci


Leonardo's manuscript

After Leonardo's death in 1519 Francesco Melzi, his favourite pupil, brought many of his manuscripts and drawings back to Italy.

This is confirmed by a note written by an agent of the Duke of Ferrara, dated 1523, referring to: "those little books by Leonardo about the anatomy, and many other interesting things", a fact mentioned also by an early sixteenth century source, the "Anonimo Gaddiano", in regard to the inheritance left by Leonardo to Melzi, which included: "cash, clothing, books, drawings, painting instruments and portraits". Fortunately, of Leonardo's vast output, over five thousand pages of drawings and notes have come down to us, in his characteristic "mirror-image" hand-writing, running from right to left. But this huge mass of writings, undoubtedly the largest collection of the entire Renaissance, has endured many vicissitudes following Leonardo's death. In fact, Leonardo's manuscripts are today nothing like the way they appeared and were grouped together during his lifetime, or even when they passed into the hands of his faithful disciple, Francesco Melzi.

It was Melzi's heirs who, after his death in 1579, began to scatter the material. Having no idea of their importance, they initially stored Leonardo's drawings and manuscripts in a loft, later giving parts of it away or selling sheets cheaply to friends and collectors.


    Codex Arundel             Codex Ashburnham     Codex Atlanticus            Codex Leicester      


         Codex Forster               Codex Madrid

  Codex Forster III, 1480S-1494 Gicléedruk Codex Madrid 1/57-R Study for a Sculpture of a Horse Gicléedruk


    Codex Trivulgianis   Codex Flight Birds

   Windsor Folios

Sketch of a Horse Art PrintThe Heart and the Circulation, Facsimile of the Windsor Book Gicléedruk



Leonardo's machines

Leonardo's output is the epitome of that extraordinary period of human history which was the Italian Renaissance, a period of great cultural advances

and of great projects. Leonardo's output is the expression of the men and women of the time, of what they felt and did, of the machines they built

so that in turn they could build churches, palaces, fortresses; machines for waging war, for work, for the manufacture and trade of all those goods

whose availability was of such great importance to the rulers and their courts. However, more importantly, Leonardo's output bears witness to who

and what he was - a man who was shaped by the loveliest and most stimulating city of the time, Florence, and who embarked upon his own path

of research and drawing up of ideas and plans embracing a multitude of sectors, ranging from hydraulics to mechanics, to flight, to anatomy and

to optics


Giant Catapult, circa 1499 Giclee Print

    Sketch of a Giant Catapult from Leonardo Da Vinci


  List of Inventions   


      Flying Machines


     War Machines


      Work Machines

  • Self-propelled car

  • Rollers for friction studies

  • Pillar-lifting machine

  • Pile driver

  • Drilling machine

  • Revolving crane

  • Screwtongs

  • Machine for threading screws

  • Machines for making mirrors

  • Machine for making ropes

  • Winged spindle

  • Teaselling machine

  • Distiller with continuous cooling system

  • Alembic

  • Improved alembic

  • Device for measuring the tensile strength of wires

  • Pulleys

  • Device for developing conical ducts

  • Mechanical drum

  • Study of a furnace


      Water and Land Machines

  • Sluice gate hatch

  • Drop-down sluice gates

  • Lagoon dredge

  • Paddle boat

  • Webbed glove

  • Drop-bottom float

  • Floats for walking on water

  • Galata Bridge

  • Fast-construction bridge

  • Revolving bridge

  • Boat with paddle wheels

  • Equipment for draining a port

  • Hatch sluice gate for a navigable canal

  • Diving bell

  • Sea dredger

  • Device for measuring water turning to steam

  • Paddle-wheeled boat propulsion system

  • Mobile-ram boat (assault battleship) ge pump  



 Inventions SCETCHES

Military Inventions Sketches Giclee Print






Armoured car

"Farò carri coperti, securi e inoffensibili; e quali intrando intra li nimici con le sue artiglierie, non è si grande moltitudine di gente d'arme che non rompessimo.

E dietro a questi potranno seguire fanterie assai illese e sanza alcuno impedimiento."
(I shall make covered chariots, that are safe and cannot be assaulted; cars which fear no great numbers when breaking through the ranks of the enemy and its artillery.

Behind them, the infantrymen shall follow, without fearing injury or other impediments).

War Machine Giclee Print

War Machine





Cannon with an adjustable elevating arc

A cannon whose elevation may be adjusted by means of a peg. It is one of the three firearms drawn by Leonardo on the same folio.

Owing to its size, this cannon was destined to be used in field action by infantrymen.

Besides having a light gun-carriage mounted on wheels, this weapon can be adjusted in height by means of a peg blocking system.

The cannon is front-loaded and has a bronze muzzle.

Mechanical Sketches Giclee Print

      Mechanical device 

Three-barrelled cannon

In Leonardo's time, cannons were mostly employed in sieges, both because of their heavy weight and because it took too much time to load them.

For these reasons, they turned out to be of little use on the battlefield, where the troops moved fast.

Leonardo made some alterations, which were to improve their accuracy and rate of fire.

This model shows a different specimen of light artillery: the gun carriage is easy to handle and it has three front-load guns.

To improve firing accuracy, the three guns can be adjusted in height by means of a peg mechanism.

Mechanical Drawings #3 Giclee Print

          Mechanical Drawings


Hull rammer

An offensive device, to be used in the sinking of enemy ships. It was designed to be directly controlled by the assault troops and,

among these, primarily by the deep-sea divers. The instrument was made of iron, had the shape of an overturned U and was provided with a large central screw.

The two legs of the U were secured to two not-adjacent planks of the ship's hull.

The screw was then screwed into the middle plank. Once the screw was tightly secured to the plank, the second handle was turned in order to exert pressure on the

two arms of the hull rammer, which thus broke into the hull and caused the sinking of the ship.

Drawing of a Flying Machine Giclee Print

           Flying Crossbow sketch  


Giant crossbow

As an engineer and designer of offensive and defensive war machines, Leonardo di not neglect to consider traditional weapons, such as crossbows and catapults.

This crossbow was suggested as a major weapon of war and, in Leonardo's mind, it was to be employed for shooting large arrows against the enemy ranks and create

havoc among them. In order to increase its flexibility and power, the gigantic bow was to be manufactured in several lamellar sections.

The shooting rope was stretched with a mechanical device and was then released by percussion or through the action of a lever.

The six carriage wheels could be inclined, so as to ensure greater firing stability. (9771 byte)

Scythed chariot

This is the framework of a scythed chariot. Already in use in Leonardo's day, this type of war machine was dusted down by Leonardo, who conceived of a

few variations on the theme. The wheels of this horse-drawn chariot engage the scythes via gearing.

As Leonardo put it, the scythes were capable of doing harm to friends and enemies alike. (12805 byte)


Sketches of Male Faces Giclee Print

    Sketches of Male Faces... Giclee Print
    Leonardo da... 


Leonardo Da Vinci Sketch of a Flying Machine Giclee PrintSketch of a Design for a Flying Machine Giclee Print

      Leonardo Da Vinci... Flying Machine


Automatic igniting device

This model testifies to one of the ideas Leonardo developed in order to improve the ignition of firearms.

The device is made up of a coil spring, linked to a wheel above by a chain.

The wheel, rotating, strikes against the flint (on the left) and produces a spark. The trigger is on the right.


     (8421 byte)

Measuring Instruments Gicléedruk




Study for Catapults Ingelijste gicléedruk    Flying Machine Ingelijste gicléedruk





Self propelled Car



Mirror Machine



Winged spindle

This is one of the most highly innovative machines designed by Leonardo for the manufacturing of textiles.

The machine was designed to perform the stretching, twisting and winding operations simultaneously on three consecutive stretches of thread.

The operations were then repeated as the thread regularly fed into the machine.

Leonardo's winged spindle, which allowed, first for the stretching, twisting and then for the winding of same section of thread, was the basis

for the later development of the continuous spinnin


Studies of Toothed Gears and For a Hygrometer, Codex Atlanticus, 1478-1518 Gicléedruk



This instrument is used for measuring the amount of moisture in the air.

More compact in shape and more easily readable than the other hygrometer shown, it is based on the same principle whereby a

hygroscopic substance and wax weigh differently from each other when a variation in the amount of water in the air




Sluice gate hatch

Milan's canal and weir system had been built two centuries before Leonardo's arrival in the city.

He was fascinated by these waterways and endeavoured to make improvements to the existing system.

One such improvement was an opening and closing mechanism applied to the sluice gates.

It consisted in a hatch provided with a padlock that could be operated from above.

By means of this device, the flow of water in the weir could be reduced or increased, thereby balancing the pressure at the sides

of the sluice gates and making it easier to open them.

Wing Mechanism, Institut De France, Paris Gicléedruk


Page from the Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci Showing Geared Device Assembled, 1500 Gicléedruk



Architectural studies, from Leonardo da Vinci



Architectural studies, from Leonardo da Vinci, Manuscript B, f. 18v. Paris, Institut de France.



Map of Milan, from Leonardo da Vinci


Map of Milan, from Leonardo da Vinci, Codex Atlanticus, f. 199 v. Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
















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