Jar “Red lead”
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. Ithis jar of red lead is most likely associated with Watt's chemical experiments concerning new dyestuffs, and particularly a substitute for the then-famous 'Smyrna Red' dye. Red lead was also used by Watt to make a cement for hardening plaster patterns for use with the sculpture copying machines present in the workshop.