THE GUILLOTINE


The Maiden was made of oak and consists of a sole beam 5 feet in length into which were fixed two upright posts 10 feet in height, 4 inches broad and 12 inches apart from each other, and 3 1/2 inches in thickness, with bevelled corners. These posts were kept steady by a branch at each side which sprang from the end of the sole and is fastened to the uprights 4 feet from the bottom. The tops of the posts were fixed into a cross rail 2 feet in length. The block was a transverse bar 3 1/4 feet from the bottom, 8 inches in breadth and 4 1/2 inches in thickness, and a hollow on the upper edge of this bar was filled with lead. The axe consisted of a plate of iron faced with steel; it measured 13 inches in length and 10 1/2 inches in breadth. On the upper edge of the plate was fixed a mass of lead 75 pounds in weight. This blade worked in grooves cut into the inner edges of the uprights, which were lined with copper.

Leon Berger, an assistant executioner and carpenter, improved and developed a new guillotine between 1870 - 1872. Among the improvements were the spring system, which should stop the mouton at the bottom of the groves, and the lock/blocking device at the lunette. The new release mechanism for the blade, was also developed by Berger. All guillotines built after 1870 are made according to Berger's construction.

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