Bohnenberger gyroscope (detail, 4 of 5)

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made in London

Postcard of Bohnenberger gyroscope (detail, 4 of 5).
© National Museums Scotland

Bohnenberger gyroscope (detail, 4 of 5)

This photograph shows the concealed signature inside the wooden globe of a Bohnenberger gyroscope. The demonstration orbital globe is an example of the device designed by professor J.G. Bohnenberger of Tubingen University in 1817 to provide the correct dynamical demonstration of the precession of the equinoxes. It was provided to an American collector by the instrument suppliers W. & S. Jones of London.

By pushing an endoscope through the aperture left by one of the weight adjustment plugs, the inked inscription inside the hollow sphere may be read: 'Made by W. Stiles London / June 1831 / in the Reign of King William the 4th / & Commencg the glorious era of Reform'. Only part of this inscription can be seen at a time.

This was a time of great civil unrest with the eventual passage of the Reform Bill through Parliament in June 1832. W. Stiles can be identified with William Stiles (1786-1871), a mathematical and philosophical instrument maker of 29 Seward Street, off Goswell Road, London, who emerges as a subcontracting instrument maker.

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Online ID: 000-180-001-014-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  
Date: 1831
  • Simpson, A.D.C. 'La plus brilliante collection qui existe au monde' a lost American collection of the nineteenth century. Journal of the history of Collections 7 (1995), pp 187-196. 
  • Simpson, A.D.C. A Sub-Contractor of W.& S. Jones Identified. Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society No. 39 (1993), pp 23-27. 
  • von Bohnenberger, [J.G.F.]. Beschreibung einer Mashine zur Erlauterung der Geseze der Umdrehung der Erde um ihre Axe .... Tubinger Blatter fur Naturwissenschaften und Arzneikunde 3 (1817), pp 72-83. 
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