Demonstration apparatus

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Postcard of Demonstration apparatus.
© National Museums Scotland

Demonstration apparatus

This apparatus, designed by James Ferguson was made around 1800 and retailed by W. & S. Jones, scientific instrument makers based in London. The apparatus was designed to show the equilibrium between the weight of a wedge and the resistance of two cylinders.

The apparatus consists of a brass frame supported on a wooden base, with four columns with finials at the top, and two wheels at either side, with two double brass tracks running between two supporting columns. Four moving-wheel trolleys fit on the tracks, supporting a pair of brass cylinders, between which balances the brass adjustable wedge, when the weights are suspended from cords with brass carriers and hooks.

Ferguson described and illustrated apparatus of this sort in his Lectures on Select Subjects, first published in 1770, although it may be an older idea. This particular example appears to have been commissioned from W. & S. Jones by Charles Nicoll Bancker (1778/9-1869), a wealthy Philadelphia insurance and shipping agent, who built up a substantial collection of scientific instruments in the first part of the 19th century.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-104-283-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1984.1
Date: Around 1800
C. 1800
What: Apparatus, Ferguson's / mechanical powers
Who: Ferguson (Eponym)
W. and S. Jones, 30 Holborn, London (Maker)
Where: England, London
Description: Ferguson's mechanical powers apparatus by W. and S. Jones, Holborn, London, c. 1800
  • Adams, George, Lectures on Natural and Experimental Philosophy. Second edition edited by Jones, William: London: 1799, volume III pp 292-3 and pl. iv 
  • Ferguson, James, Lectures on Select Subjects in Mechanics, Pneumatics, Hydrostatics and Optics. 2nd edition. London: 1770, pp 65-7 and plate vi. 
  • Simpson, A. D. C., ' "La plus brillante collection qui existe au monde": A lost American collection of the nineteenth century' in Journal of the History of Collections 7 no 2 (1995), pp 187-96 
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