More than five years have passed since this book project, Ars Mechanica, a history of Fabrique Nationale (FN), begun. Many assumed that Ars Mechanica was to be an update to Auguste Francotte and Claude Gaier’s work, FN 100 Years… However, any resemblance to previous FN history books is at best superficial. Ars Mechanica is by far the most detailed and comprehensive work on the subject. Ars Mechanica will come as a pleasant surprise to many, and will exceed all expectations. The book recounts FN’s rich history like no other. Its title, “The Ultimate FN Book” is no mere marketing ploy. Ars Mechanica is illustrated with over a thousand photographs, many previously unpublished, and is a visual feast for any FN and Browning collector. For many it will introduce FN not only as the ultimate arms maker but reveal its rich history in bicycle, motorcycle and automobile manufacturing among many other successful product lines. These products, like the arms that bear the FN logo, were examples of technical excellence. FN’s vehicle products held a number of world speed records, and continue to fuel the passions of motorcycle and automobile collectors. Years of painstaking work are reflected in this massive all-color volume.
We reviewed one of the working drafts several months ago and at the time Ars Mechanica accounted for approximately 510 color pages. Since then, several additions have been made and it is certain to grow again before going to press. The authors, Auguste Francotte, Claude Gaier and Robert Karlshausen, have done a magnificent job representing all facets of FN’s history, including its factories and affiliates such as Winchester and Browning. Many will recognize Mr. Claude Gaier, the well-known arms expert and curator of the Liège Arms Museum. His excellent book Five Centuries of Liège Gunmaking is still in high demand today, but sadly is out of print and no longer available in English.