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Achilles Collas

Achille Collas (1795–1859) was a French engineer, inventor, writer and engraver who developed a way of mechanically creating engravings after medallions and other reliefs. He is best known for his invention of the “réduction méchanique”, a machine to copy sculptures at a smaller scale. This invention popularised small sculptures and has been credited with being almost entirely responsible for “the transformation of the bronze industry”.

 

In 1836, Collas produced a pantograph-like machine to reproduce sculptures in different scales and materials. Two years later, he started a company together with Ferdinand Barbedienne, the “Société Collas et Barbedienne”, for the production and marketing of reduced copies of sculptures in different materials ranging from plaster and wood to bronze and ivory. The first product of the company was a reproduction of the Venus de Milo.

In 1851, Barbedienne sent some pieces to The Great Exhibition, where the company received a special medal. This marked the start of the company’s success, and in 1855 Collas was awarded the Grand Médaille d’Honneur of the Exposition Universelle in Paris. His invention of the “réduction méchanique” was a major breakthrough in the bronze industry, and its impact is still felt today.

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