This beautifully made device is an excellent example of a machine that does not actually perform a task but simply demonstrates a principle. The action of levers and pulleys has assisted engineers since ancient times and has been continuously refined. These machines let us move a large force using a small force, but do not multiply energy.
Henry, the 10th Earl and 1st Marquess of Exeter (1754-1804), was a keen amateur scientist, and would have used this device to demonstrate his knowledge of such things to his friends.
The 1804 Burghley Inventory records: ‘Old Library, 2nd room…1 machine by Haas inclined plane’.