Nairne electrical machine

53.8 x 24.5 x 63
Glass, tin leaf and wood

INDEX 1790 : Q.IV.571

Machina Electrica Negativa e Positiva, quae Electro-Medica quoque nuncupatur, cum omni necessario apparatu, quo morbis diversis Electricitas applicatur.

A negative and positive electrical machine, also known as electromedical, with all the fittings necessary for electricity to be applied in various illnesses.

This is yet another electrostatic machine made by Edward Nairne. It consists of a glass cylinder built according to a model that he had registered. The tube is hollow and is turned on its horizontal axis by a handle. There are two pieces of wood at the ends of the tube and these rest on two vertical columns, which have a wooden bush to retain the rotational axis of the cylinder.

The device rests on a wooden platform which bears the following inscription NAIRNE PATENT MEDICO-ELECTRICAL MACHINE. This model was designed by Nairne in 1772, the same year the Gabinete de Física was founded. It was originally intended for medical purposes as it was believed that certain disorders could be cured with the application of electric shocks.

There is an entry in the account book in the University Archive, dated 23rd December 1782, which probably refers to the acquisition of this machine:

"And one hundred thirty-eight thousand three hundred eighty reis ..........138$380

which was paid to Dr. João Antonio dallabella Lente of Experimental Physics in this University for the cost of thirty-seven guineas of two machines that this University ordered from London for the Gabinete de Física, namely, a New Dynamic machine invented by Mr. G. Atwood, costing twenty-six guineas, and a new electrical Machine invented by Mr Nairne which produces much fire and costs eleven guineas."

These two instruments are part of a set sent from London by J.H. de Magellan for the Anatomy Theatre, the Faculty of Medicine, Gabinete de Física and the Astronomy Observatory of the University.

Carvalho, Rómulo de, História do Gabinete de Física da Universidade de Coimbra, Universidade de Coimbra, Biblioteca Geral, Coimbra, 1978, p. 103 and p. 678.

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