Jason Clarke Antiques

Late Victorian Wimshurst Machine by Victor Morlot-Maury of Paris


For sale a superb late Victorian Wimshurst machine by Victor Morlot-Maury of Paris.  

This is without doubt the most beautifully crafted Wimshurst machines I have had the pleasure of owning. The instrument is comprised of two fourteen inch contra-rotating glass plates with thirty two foil sectors. Both are secured by two ebonised wooden uprights and an upper spindle with a lower spindle which holds two smaller geared wheels connected by rubber bands. A walnut and brass handle provides the means for operating the machine.

By turning the handle electrostatic charge is sent to the two tall 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.

The simple proportions of the base and supports are all masterfully conceived in ebonised wood and the brass work down to the screw-heads all shout quality of manufacture. It is complete with its original makers plaque engraved to Victor Morlot-Maury, 11 Rue de Blainville, Paris. With the words Chimie-Physique denoting his trade as a scientific instrument maker.

I can uncover very little about this maker but he certainly traded from the end of the nineteenth century up until at least the 1930’s where extant examples of his manufacture such as induction coils and galvanometers reside in French museums. Evidence of his output suggest that he specialised in electrical engineering, he was certainly adept enough to be involved in early experimental television equipment and radio, so it is surprising that so little detail can be obtained of his career.

The Wimshurst influence machine or electrostatic generator was developed by the British inventor James Wimshurst between 1880 & 1883. He was the Chief Shipwright Surveyor for Lloyds of London but dedicated his spare time to scientific experimentation. Widely known for his experiments with electricity, he became a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1889 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1898.

Circa 1900

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