Battery, known as Leclanche cell

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made in Glasgow

Postcard of Battery, known as Leclanche cell.
© National Museums Scotland

Battery, known as Leclanche cell

The Leclanche cell was a cheap efficient battery devised in 1867 by Georges Leclanche (1839-1882). This example was made around 1900 by Baird and Tatlock of Glasgow.

The battery consists of a porous pot filled with powdered carbon and manganese dioxide. The pot sat in a glass jar filled with ammonium chloride solution. A carbon rod dipping into the powder acted as the anode (positive), and a zinc rod dipping into the solution acted as the cathode.

Current electricity is produced when two metals are combined with moisture. Many attempts were made during the 19th century to produce an electric battery that was compact, durable and safe. The Leclanche cell was still being offered for sale by chemical suppliers well into the 20th century.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-004-727-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1902.41
Date: Around 1900
c. 1900
What: Cell, Leclanche
Subject: 22. PHYSICS, Magnetism and Electricity (Departmental Classification)
8. ELECTRICAL & ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING, Galvanic (Departmental Classification)
Who: Baird and Tatlock, Glasgow and Edinburgh (Maker)
Leclanche (Eponym)
Where: Scotland, Lanarkshire, Glasgow
Description: Leclanche cell by Baird and Tatlock, Glasgow, c. 1900
  • Baird & Tatlock (London) Ltd, Physics & Technology, London 1924 [trade catalogue], p.430. 
  • For an overview of current electricity, see G.L'E. Turner, Nineteenth Century Scientific Instruments. London, 1983, esp. ch. 11, 'Electricity', pp 198-202.. 
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