The Description and Use of Nairne's Patent Electrical Machine with the Addition of Some Philosophical Experiments and Medical Observations
by Edward Nairne
|The Description of the Use of Nairne's Patent Electrical Machine|
at the College of William & Mary.
|Published||London: Printed for Nairne and Blunt|
Edward Nairne (1726 – 1806) was a philosopher and instrument maker and is believed to have been a native of Sandwich, Kent. After apprenticing for optical instrument maker Matthew Loft became master of his predecessor's Spectaclemaker's Company in London in 1768. He employed many men, including Jesse Ramsden and apprentice, Thomas Blunt, who became his partner in 1774. Nairne's studies of atmospheric electricity were published in the Philosophical Transaction and led to his eventual membership in the Royal Society. Among Nairne’s inventions was an electrostatic generator, which was intended to treat a variety of medicinal ailments via electrical shocks.
The machine was acclaimed "the most powerful and perfect generator that had been made to date." In the eighth edition of his instruction manual, The Description and Use of Nairne’s Patent Electrical Machine: With the Addition of Some Philosophical Experiments and Medical Observations, Nairne asserted that electricity should be held in the highest regard for its efficiency in treating many disorders. Nairne collaborated with a number of philosophers, including Benjamin Franklin, for whom he made magnets and an achromatic telescope. Nairne is also credited with the invention of the rubber eraser.
The Description and Use of Nairne’s Patent Electrical Machine: With the Addition of Some Philosophical Experiments and Medical Observations was published in 1783 to promote Nairne's electrostatic generator for which he was seeking a patent. Nairne hoped to stimulate further interest, particularly for the parallel markets in physics and medicine. He wrote, "[t]hough this machine and its apparatus are constructed with a particular view to the purposes of medicine, yet it will be found equally applicable to philosophical uses."
Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library
Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Description of Nairne's electrical machine. 8vo." This was one of the titles kept by Thomas Jefferson, who later sold a copy to the Library of Congress in 1815. Both George Wythe's Library on LibraryThing and the Brown Bibliography list the 1783 edition published in London, based on Millicent Sowerby's entry in Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson. Unfortunately, Jefferson's copy no longer exists to verify the edition or Wythe's prior ownership.
As yet, the Wolf Law Library has been unable to procure a copy of Description and Use of Nairne's Patent Electrical Machine.
- Simon Schaffer, "Nairne, Edward (1726–1806)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed May 19, 2015.
- Paola Bertucci, "A Philosophical Business: Edward Nairne and the Patent Medical Electrical Machine (1782)," History of Technology 23 (2001), 44.
- Ibid., 45.
- "Edward Nairne," innovateus: Innovation and information for sustainable living, accessed May 19, 2015.
- Schaffer, "Nairne, Edward."
- Edward Nairne, The Description and Use of Nairne's Patent Electrical Machine with the Addition of Some Philosophical Experiments and Medical Observations (London: Printed for Nairne and Blunt, 1783), .
- LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 19, 2013.
- Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012, rev. May 2014) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433.
- E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 1:298 [no.632].
- Read this book at the Internet Archive.