For sale, a German 1920’s Wimshurst electrostatic machine by Voltana in full working order.
Maintaining its two original ebonite disks, this Wimshurst has been lovingly restored back to working order and sparks beautifully.
Unlike some of its predecessors, this particular model was conceived as a versatile experimental model which would allow for ancillary equipment to be attached to the machine. In recognition of this, it has circuit breakers at the base of the leyden jars and at the top bar which would allow the user to divert the generated static electricity to alternative devices if required. The Wimshurst will still work whether the breakers are engaged or not, but the spark will be lessened when disengaged as it reduces the amount of charge collected at the leyden jar.
The Wimshurst influence machine or electrostatic generator was developed by the British inventor James Wimshurst between 1880 & 1883.
The machine has a cast iron base with two contra rotating ebonite discs with 30 metal sectors attached to the front. By turning the handle electrostatic charge is sent to the two glass leyden jars which sit either side of the base on brass plates. Once enough charge has been stored within the jars a spark is released between the two brass nodes to the front of the machine.
Although this machine has no markings other than some numerals stamped to the underside of the base, similar machines were being marketed by the German Heinrich Bernhard Felix Wommelsdorf under the product name of “Womella” and also by an American company called the Electro Importing Company both active in the early 1900’s. Please see the images for an example of the Electro Importing Company’s adverts during the period.
James Wimshurst was the Chief Shipwright Surveyor for Lloyds of London but dedicated his spare time to scientific experimentation. Widely known for his experiments with electiricity, he became a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1889 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1898.