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 Other Scientific & Philosophical  Apparatus


Early Electric Seismometer
4th qtr, 19th Century

This is a very early and unusual electric seismometer, produced by the  famous Italian company Jest, sometime between 1850 and 1880.

The device consists of a heavy brass sphere suspended by a wire, with a needed attached to the bottom of the sphere.  The needle is centered in an adjustable contact mounted in  the wooden base. In the presence of an earthquake the sphere would move, causing the needle to touch the contact, and thus closing a circuit to ring a bell.  The apparatus in enclosed in a glass bell which prevents false alarms from the movement of air.

This is probably one of the earliest electric seismometers and is an excellent example of the use  of electricity in a broad range of applications that took place during the last half of the 19th century.

Lippman Caplillary Galvanoscope
Max Kohl
1st quarter, 20th century

Used for measuring electric charge. A small drop of mercury in the horizontal capillary tube moves under the influence of an electric field applied to the two electrodes. The amount of charge is indicated by the distance the drop moves.

  Volta Hydrogen Lamp
2nd Qtr, 19th Century

The hydrogen lamp was invented by Alessando Volta (1745-1827) in 1777.

Volta lamps were very popular demonstration devices due to the dramatic
explosion and bright flame when the lamp was ignited. 




Electrolysis Cups

Two identical pieces, each made of hand-blown glass cups 8-1/2" high mounted with wax on 6-1/2" mahogany base with elaborate binding posts on either side of cup. Pictured and described as a "Decomposing Cell" in Davis' Manual of Magnetism pg. 42, fig 28 (1848) and Pike's Catalog (1848) Vol. I pg. 340, fig. 402.


Edison Stock Ticker  - 1880
Thomas Edison Universal Stock Market Ticker Serial number 5325..This amazing piece of history was the subject of some of Thomas Edison's earliest patents. 

This machine was in service delivering stock quotes from around 1880 to the the crash in 1929!  Has a full new roll of paper with first 3-4 feet printed with quotes from the '30s.  Stock Tickers are very rare today; During World War II many of the Universal and self-winding tickers were scrapped for metal or sold off to businesses in South America. In 1960, Western Union ordered all remaining tickers destroyed.


Early American Orrery - c. 1855

Unsigned, but by Holbrook. Tabletop orrery stands 16-1/2"" tall on turned walnut 8"" diameter base. Atop the turned pillar is a 4"" diameter gearbox with cut brass gearing and crank. Wire arms support the eight planets, the longest being 20"" in length. Sun is solid wood, mustard in color. Restoration included the replacement of some planets and their moons.



Early American Orrery - c. 1840

Unsigned, but by Benjamin Pike of N.Y.; standing 21-1/2" high overall, it has a fine turned mahogany base, pillar, and 7" diameter brass bound gearbox with an applied printed zodiacal/calendar/directional ring (some missing). The seven planets mounted on steel arms (the longest 18") to brass hubs, with independently geared motions via hand crank and the internal hand-cut brass gears. Some planets and moons are fine replacements; all else is in original, complete and fine condition, including the 33/4" diameter gilded wood sun ball. Clearly matches orrery described in Benjamin Pike's 1848 Catalog Vol I pg. 113; fig 123; also see Tesseract Catalog Spring 1991.




Archimede's Screw - c. 1840

Made of wood, brass and glass. Mahogany base measures 21-3/8" x 6" and highest point at top of the wooden handle is 18-1/2". Described and illustrated on page 324, figure M47 in Public and Private Science: The King George III Collection and on page 240, figure 261 in Pike's Catalog Vol. I. Very fine condition. French, circa 1840.

Tesla Coil - early 20th century

Unsigned, but by Griffin & Co. (British)


Van de Graaff Generator - c. 1950

The Van de Graaff generator was developed by  Robert Jamison Van de Graaff beginning in 1929 . In 1931 he began to construct a huge double generator consisting of two 23-foot high insulating columns each containing two belts and supporting an aluminum sphere, 6 feet in diameter. The apparatus was used for high energy particle research until the 1950s when it was donated to the Boston Museum of Science, where it is regularly demonstrated at  the Thompson Theatre of Electricity.


Early Electrical Experiment kits



Electrical Experiment Kit
c. 1895


Meiser & Mertig Electrical Experiment Kit
c. 1905

Stahl Electricity Kit

RGL Electrical Set

Stahl Electricity Kit

Edison 50th
Anniversary Bulb

Declinator and Inclinator

Early Selenium Cell





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