Eric put his mind to this conundrum and has come up with the answer, a definitive answer which I, in my role as questioner, have decided is the definitive answer. To wit: this is a photographic print from the last quarter of the 19th C of a Pantographic 3D Reproduction Studio. Herewith Eric's thoughts:
"Gary....I think what you are looking at is a form of 3d pantographic duplicating machine. Clearly duplicating “busts”, it’s curious that there is no dust/debris visible. Kinda like the Tauntonian workshops!
I took the two images, sharpened them, then viewed them in stereo. really only the machine in the centre reveals any hints, the one on the left is too indistinct.
Details start to emerge....While you can make out the two little pulleys above the massive treadle pulley, then you see that the belt drives a cutter assembly on the arm that is at a 15 degree angle. Further up the arm is the follower
The two discs visible under the arm seem to be in proportion to the angle of the arms with the follower and thecutter, meaning that the busts are reduced In size. and they seem to be oriented to move back and forth.
The two parallel arms above I cannot figure out, they don’t appear to be drive mechanisms, so possibly they are a lift mechanism to lift the patterns or duplicated work off the discs.
And when you see them steroscopically, you look back at the image, and “oh ya” that’s what it shows!
Even though the two images are the same, hence no real sterographic information appears, but the when the brain “fuses” two slighly different images (one sharpened, one not) it tries to make sense of it, sometimes “filling in gaps”
That’s my best guess.
Thanks for the puzzle. It is an exquisite mechanism. No wonder someone took a photograph of it.
Eric in Calgary"
Eric hits it on the head of the sculptured bust. It was common for people of the 19th C, particularly those of the tourist persuasion, to purchase copies of busts of famous people. The copies were usually made of alabaster or of a less expensive marble. To appeal to the traveling tourist trade, the copies were reduced in size so that they could be packed for travel, same as today.
If you look at the image, there is a small bust on the left of the surface of the center machine and there is a stone carvers leather mallet on the table holding the three large busts. The various pieces of complex machinery scattered around the workshop would be the various reduction mechanisms required to adjust the pantograph for the desired copy size.
In reviewing an enlarged version of the original at 300 dpi, I believe the machine to the left is a horizontal 3D pantographic, possibly for reproducing the memorial and honorific plaques that were also in vogue.
Now to find a description of such a 3D pantograph...
till next, Gary