During the 19th century ornamental turning on a lathe became a fashionable pastime for the upper class gentlemen. John Jacob Holtzapffel (bn. Alsace 1768) had established a workshop in London at the beginning of the 19th century, and built up a reputation as a maker of quality lathes and tools. His customers included monarchs and the nobility of Europe, and London became the world centre for the hobby of ornamental turning.
The Holtzapffel firm continued to make lathes until 1927 by which time they had produced a total of 2557 lathes, serially numbered, many of which were equipped for ornamental turning. Other engineers copied or varied his designs but none were so prolific in their manufacture.
The hobby of ornamental turning declined rapidly following the invention of the motor-car which, by the end of the First World War, had become the fashionable pastime for the mechanically-minded amateur.