Credit: © The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.8458
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    Electrical machine

    Joseph Priestley (1733 - 1804, British) , Natural philosopher
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    Content object
    Electrical machine comprising of a wooden frame with a wooden handle, a three footed base and two arms. Between the arms a glass globe is suspended on a rubber pad. To operate, the handle is turned, making the globe rotate and rub against the pad, producing an electrical charge.

    Designed by Joseph Priestley to aid his study of electricity and first described by Priestley in his The History and Present State of Electricity (1767). Priestley's book included instructions on how to build the same and similar machines in order that others might reproduce his results.

    Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) British theologian and natural philosopher, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766.
    Object history
    The machine passed from Priestley to Dr Robert Cappe of York, the youngest son of Newcome Cappe, Unitarian and Minister of St Saviourgate Chapel, York, long-time friend of Priestley. Cappe bequeathed it to Dr. John Bostock (1773-1846) FRS, his fellow student and friend. Bostock bequeathed it to James Yates (1789-1871) FRS, his half-brother, who presented it to the Royal Society. ('Priestley’s laboratory and library and other of his effects' by Douglas McKie, Notes & Records, vol 12, no 1 (1956).)
    Associated place
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