|The models presented below are based on the 1792 guillotine. A well-preserved guillotine of that approximate vintage is exhibited in the Limburg Museum in Venlo, Holland. Similar machines can be seen in old photographs, but all of these pictures were taken since 1860 so the guillotines could have been extensively modified by the time they were photographed. The Brugge (Belgium) guillotine is a prime example of such an 1792 model used until 1862 and modified extensively in the process.|
The 1792 guillotine model was the one created by Tobias Schmidt and in use at the height of the French Revolution when the Terror sent thousands of people to their deaths. It is the machine on which Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Charlotte Corday, Danton and Robespierre were executed.
Some of the models have none of the early modifications and represent something close to what the original machine made by Tobias Schmidt may have looked like. Others reflect improvements that were made by Tobias Schmidt and other guillotine builders as early as the summer of 1792.
The frame is made of oak and painted red to hide the blood. The connecting points are all mortise and tenon construction and the machine can be taken apart by merely removing the steel spikes locking the joints together. The mouton is made of oak with a steel or lead backer plate and a steel crash bar which prevents it from being damaged when it impacts the wood at the end of the grooves. The blade assembly simply slides in grooves cut into the wood posts. The bascule carriage is guided by simple wood tenons sliding in wood grooves. The release mechanism consists of a horizontal lever arm holding the blade up while being held in place by a steel rod anchored to the post at its lower end. Releasing the rod from its' anchor point lets the lever arm drop and the blade fall. The large basket is made of rope on a steel frame with an oak base. The scale of the model is 1/6th making it approx. 30" tall by 15" long by 6" wide.
|Below are some close-up photos of the detail construction of several models. Note the tight mortise and tenon construction where the post and braces meet. The lunette boards on the original 1792 model were made entirely of wood and had no metal liner as the later guillotines, however steel-lined lunettes started been used around 1794. Brass pulleys embedded in the upper cross beam allow the rope to pull up the mouton. The overhang on the right side of the machine houses the outer pulley which brings the rope to the outside of the uprights. The rope remained attached to the mouton on the original machine, even during the blade drop, which required that it be left loosely coiled on the right side of the frame. Interference with the rope movement caused some botched executions with the first machines. The irregular diamond shaped blade is hand made of 1/8" steel plate and secured with three or four embedded bolts. The bolts are hand made to ressemble old forged hardware rather than modern machine parts. Likewise the nuts are square as they would have been in 1792.|