Onelarge jar containing: white powder, piece of paper, “Old plaster mixed with alum water will set”

Made:
1790-1819
maker:
Watt, James

1 large jar, ctg: white powder, piece of paper, broken, “Old plaster mixed with alum water will set”

This item is part of the contents of the workshop that Scottish engineer James Watt developed at his home, Heathfield, at Handsworth, Birmingham, from c.1795 through to his death in 1819. 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.

Watt experimented with plaster mixed with alum to get the plaster - used for making copies with the sculpture copying machines in the workshop - to set more quickly.

Details

Category:
James Watt's Garret Workshop
Object Number:
1924-792/1679
Materials:
paper (fibre product) and unidentified
type:
jar
credit:
Major J.M. Gibson-Watt