1893 text

The date of the origin of smoke jacks does not appear to be known, but the first patent taken out for an improved smoke-jack by Peter Clare is dated December 24th, 1770. The smoke jack consists of a wind-wheel fixed in the chimney, which communicates motion by means of an endless band to a pulley, whence the motion is transmitted to the spit by gearing. In the valuable introduction to the volume of “Abridgments of Specifications relating to Cooking, 1634-1866” (Patent Office), mention is made of an Italian work by Bartolomeo Scappi, published first at Rome in 1572, and afterwards reprinted at Venice in 1622, which gives a complete account of the kitchens of the time and the utensils used in them. In the plates several roasting-jacks are represented, one worked by smoke or hot air and one by a spring.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

7 Annotations

Terry Bishop  •  Link

Leonardo da Vinci is also supposed to have sketched such a device around 1500.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

not to be confused with poor jack which be hake a poor [lacking in flesh] fish.

Bill  •  Link

JACK [from Scullion Boys, commonly called Jack, used to be Turnspits] an Engine, to roast Meat
---An universal etymological English dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘Jack, n.1 < A pet-name or by-name, used as a familiar equivalent of John; in Middle English Jakke,
. . II. Applied to things which in some way take the place of a lad or man, or save human labour; also more vaguely to other things with which one has to do.
. . 7. A machine for turning the spit in roasting meat; either wound up like a clock or actuated by the draught of heated air up the chimney (smoke-jack).
. . 1660 S. Pepys Diary 23 Oct. (1970) I. 273 After supper we looked over..his Wooden Jack in his Chimny that go with the Smoak; which indeed is very pretty . . ‘

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.