Mahogany patterns

James Watt

8 Mahogany patterns, tied together

This item is part of the contents of the workshop that Scottish engineer James Watt developed at his home, Heathfield, at Handsworth, Birmingham. Although Watt is best known for his work on the steam engine, his workshop contains a wide variety of objects from many different projects, from chemistry to sculpture-copying.

The description of the item was written by Edward Collins, the land agent responsible for Heathfield when the workshop was given to the Science Museum in 1924. Collins could not always identify what he was looking at, but always described what he saw clearly. This has allowed his descriptions to form the basis of subsequent research.

These items are heads for the tripod legs of Watt’s Perspective Apparatus, made c1765 while he was working as an instrument maker in Glasgow. The apparatus was supplied with a set of three tapered tinplate tubes to form a tripod which, nested together, were intended to be carried as a walking-cane. A pair of the present articles was required for each set; the lower end of each was plugged into the head of one of the tubes, for which reason the two were of different diameters. The innermost tube had a wooden fitting of a different form which was probably a fixture in the tube. In use, the legs were attached to the box forming the easel by brass thumbscrews. The pieces bear stamped numbers on their flat faces, presumably for the owner’s use in assembling the apparatus.


James Watt's Garret Workshop
Object Number:
Major J.M. Gibson-Watt