Halley’s diving bell

    Date
    1839
    Creator
    Unknown, Artist
    Object type
    Material
    Technique
    Dimensions
    height (print): 280mm
    width (print): 182mm
    Subject
    Content object
    Description
    Underwater scene reconstructing the operation of a diving bell suspended from the mast of a ship. The bell is crewed by two men and its air is supplied by barrels. A third, suited diver, stands outside the craft on the sea floor, his helmet provided with air piped from the bell. The scene shows a salvage operation in progress, with the recovery of two cannon being hauled up to the waiting ship.

    Frontispiece illustration to The Saturday Magazine, no.436, 20 April 1839. The work accompanies an article ‘The Diving Bell. No.1’, pp.145-147, giving a history of the apparatus and its invention, including improvements devised by Edmund Halley.

    The accompanying text states that: ‘By reference to our frontispiece, which represents Dr. Halley’s diving-bell in actual use, the reader will have no difficulty in comprehending the following details. Dr. Halley’s bell was made of wood: its capacity was about sixty cubic feet: its form, that of a truncated cone. It was coated with lead, and the weight of metal was so distributed that it would sink with the mouth always downwards and horizontal. In the top was fixed a strong but clear glass as a window: below the bell was a stage hanging by three ropes loaded with weights for the sake of steadiness...’

    Edmund Halley (1656-1742) British astronomer, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1678.
    Associated place
    <The World>
       > Europe
          > United Kingdom
    Credit
    ©The Royal Society
    Image number
    RS.14064
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