Spit Jack Engine
This mechanism is a spit jack engine, dating from the late 17th century. The practice of cooking food over an open fire on a spit dates back to at least the 1st century BC. These devices get their name from the servant boys who would have been charged with slowly rotating meat over fires in large manor homes and castles in the medieval period and were often called ‘spit jacks.’ Spit jack engines started to commonly include motorized elements in the 16th and early 17th centuries. This spit jack was likely powered by a descending weight. The machine would be wound by a handle, and the weight would then slowly descend towards the floor, allowing the gear mechanisms to rotate the spit and ensure even cooking time on both sides of the food. This spit jack engine is well crafted, entirely forged from iron and brass. Although the piece is no longer functional, it still serves an excellent decorative purpose. Consider placing this in a rustic inspired kitchen, or in a fireplace display.
At this time in Europe, major changes in the fields of science and philosophy occurred. Today, the 17th century is widely known as the “Age of Science.” Prior to the 1600s, science was not widely respected as a discipline, yet the work of influential scientists such as Isaac Newton (1643–1727) and Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) helped change this societal perception. One of the period’s major discoveries occurred when Dutch scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723) viewed bacteria under a microscope in 1676. Key scientific inventions included the steam pump, barometer, air pump, pocket watch, and the calculator.