Battery of Leyden jars made by Henry Cavendish

About 1775
Henry Cavendish

Battery of 18 Leyden jars, housed in a wooden box, about 1775, made and used by Henry Cavendish for electrical experiments in his private laboratory at Clapham Common, London.

Leyden jars, which enabled the storage and movement of static charge, transformed electrical experimentation during the 18th century. Prior to their invention, static electricity had to be generated as required for experiments, usually using a friction electrical machine.

Wealthy natural philosopher Henry Cavendish had wide-ranging scientific interests. Between 1767 and the early 1780s he conducted a variety of electrical investigations in his private laboratory at Great Marlborough Street, London. Several of these involved ‘batteries’ of multiple Leyden jars, like this one. In one series of experiments, Cavendish attempted to mimic the shocks of the electric torpedo fish.

On display

Science Museum: Science City

If you are visiting to see this object, please contact us in advance to make sure that it will be on display.

Related people


Electricity and Magnetism
Object Number:
brass, copper, glass, lead and wood
storage cells
Cavendish, Victor Christian William, ninth duke of Devonshire

Cite this page


We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.

Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero

Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data


Download catalogue entry as json

View manifest in IIIF viewer

Add to Animal Crossing Art Generator

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.