image MS_215_117
Image number: RS.16632
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Glass instrument with a bolt head


1 July 1663


Unknown, Artist


Robert Hooke (1635-1703, British), Natural philosopher

Object type

Archive reference number

Manuscript page number




height (page): 354mm
width (page): 238mm


Content object


Drawing of a glass instrument with a bolt head, placed in a small glass vessel. Robert Hooke used this instrument with an air pump for a series of experiments in July 1663, including a variation of the Torricellian experiment using water and an experiment on the 'uniting and mixing of air and water'.

This manuscript is a copy of Register Book no. 2 (RBO/2i) and some letters to the Royal Society, all from between 1662 and 1664.

The original drawing by Hooke is at Cl.P/20/20/001. Other copies can be found at RBO/2i/244, RBO/2ii/161, RBC/2/046 and MS/776/433.


A Bolt-head of the shape of A, containing about six or seven ounces of Water, with a neck about six inches long, was filled top-fulll with Water, and the mouth of it inserted, into a small glasse body of Water as B; and so conveyed into the Receiver, of the Evacuating Engine, and kept there till the Receiver had been very well exhausted; then it was taken out , and the little bubble of Air, that was found in the Bolt-head and had been drawn out, of the water was removed, and as much of the common Air put in its place and then suffered to stand in the posture represented in the figure.
Transcribed by the Making Visible project

Object history

At the meeting of the Royal Society on 1 July 1663, ‘Mons. Huygens’s experiment of purging water from air, to see whether it would subside, according to the Torricellian experiment, was made, but did not succeed; and was therefore ordered to be repeated at the next meeting. Mr. Hooke’s experiment for finding, whether the bubbles, that rise out of the water upon the emptying a receiver of the air, are real air, or only rarefied parts of water, was ordered to be repeated at the next meeting’ (Birch 1:268).

8 July 1663, ‘[Mr. Hooke] was ordered to give, in writing, the two experiments lately made concerning the bubbles remaining on the top of the water in glass balls, upon the emptying of the receiver; and the not subsiding of the water freed from air. The operator was ordered to get the long glass tubes raised against the next meeting’ (Birch 1:273).

16 July 1663, ‘Mr. Hooke brought in an account in writing of two experiments tried by the society, one concerning the uniting and mixing of air and water; the other concerning the suspension of defecated water in a bolt head after the receiver had been well exhausted. This account was ordered to be registered’ (Birch 1:274-75). Figure and text printed in Birch 1:275.

Related Fellows

Robert Hooke (1635-1703, British), Natural philosopher

Associated place

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