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Air pump

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probably made in Boston, USA

Postcard of Air pump.
© National Museums Scotland

Air pump

This air pump was made around 1845, probably by Joseph M. Wightman (1812-85), a scientific instrument maker based in Boston in the United States of America between 1830 and 1861.

The pump has its pistons fixed while the cylinder is worked up and down. It has a stirrup handle and is marked on an ivory plate set into the base 'I M WIGHTMAN / BOSTON'. The glass bell jar (not shown) was placed on the table on top of the instrument.

Wightman did not invent the single-barrelled lever activated air pump, but improved upon it, as he felt that it was the most practical design to use in American schools. These ranged in prices from $37 to $150.

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Online ID: 000-100-104-282-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1983.28
Date: Around 1845
C. 1845
Who: Wightman, Boston? (Maker)
Where: England, Lincolnshire, Boston
Description: Air pump by Wightman of Boston, c. 1845
  • McBee, Ellen, 'Joseph Milner Wightman: Philosophical Instrument Maker' in Rittenhouse: Journal of the American Scientific Instrument Enterprise. vol 6, no 3 (1992) pp 65-72 
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