Search our collection
Napier's Bones, c.1690.
Set of Napier's rods in boxwood case John Napier, the inventor of logarithms, also invented this aid to calculation known as 'Napier's Bones' in 1617. The 'bones' consist of a set of rectangular rods, each marked with a counting number at the top, and the multiples of that number down their lengths. When aligned against the row of multiples as shown, any multiple of the top number can be read off from right to left by adding the digits in each parallelogram in the appropriate row. Multiplication is thus reduced to addition.
Arkwright's water frame, 1775.
Improved spinning machine (water frame), by Sir Richard Arkwright, England, 1775.
Rotative steam engine by Boulton and Watt, 1788.
Boulton and Watt Rotative Beam Engine - the 'Lap' engine. This is the oldest essentially unaltered rotative engine in the world. Built by James Watt in 1788, it incorporates all of his most important steam-engine improvements. The engine was used at Matthew Boulton’s Soho Manufactory in Birmingham, where it drove 43 metal polishing (or ‘lapping’) machines for 70 years.
Print of Henry Beighton's Engraving of a Newcomen Engine
Framed print of Henry Beighton's Engraving of the Newcomen Engine at Griff, 1717, Henry Beighton, England, 1717-1725. This engraving (the original of which was discovered in Worcester College, Oxford, in 1925) is the oldest known illustration of a Newcomen engine.
Demainbray's Newcomen engine model
King George III
Newcomen engine model, maker unknwon, before 1753. Once belonged to Stephen Demainbray.
Orrery made for the Earl of Orrery
Orrery or planetary model, c. 1712, made for Charles Boyle, the fourth Earl of Orrery by John Rowley, Fleet Street, London. The instrument was copied from one made by George Graham, and termed ‘orrery’ after its purchaser.
Sun-and-moon dial by Elias Allen
Sun-and-moon dial made by Elias Allen between 1607 and 1653 at his workshop, near St. Clement's Church, London. Engraved "Elias Allen fecit a Moone diall". It is callibrated for use at the latitude 51 1/2.
1749 - 1823
1749-1823, physician; surgeon; pioneer of smallpox vaccination, British; English
Astrolabe by Ferdinand Arsenius
Astrolabe made by Ferdinand Arsenius, Antwerp, Flanders, 1607-1618.
Early balance spring watch by Thomas Tompion
Early balance spring pocket watch in silver case made by Thomas Tompion, Fleet Street, London, England, 1675-79. The watch features an unusual dial showing minutes on the main dial and two subsidiary dials for the hours (in the upeer position) and seconds (in the lower position). The subsidairy dial for hours inidicates up to six hours in each cycle.
Reflecting telescope by William Herschel
Newtonian reflecting telescope with 6 1/8-inch diameter speculum mirror of 7-foot focal length with mahogany tube and altazimuth stand; includes accessories and a pamphlet of directions for use. Telescope made by Herschel for his friend Sir William Watson in Bath, 1783-1785.
Robert Hooke type microscope
Compound microscope designed by Robert Hooke, 1671-1700 and thought to have been made by Christopher Cock, Long Acre, Covent Garden, London, but not signed. Part of an accessory for manipulating specimens has survived and the objective lens is a modern replacement made in 1965.
Magnetic toy by George Adams
King George III
Magnetic toy demonstration device made by George Adams, Fleet Street, London, 1765. Consisting of two mahogany boxes. One contains 4 dials with the numbers: 1, 5, 6 and 7 in each - situated beneath sliding lid with square window revealing one number per dial. The second box contains 4 ebony blocks numbered 1, 7, 6, 5, each slightly trapezoid in shape. Both boxes have hinged lids with 2 metal catches at the front.
Painting. [Mrs. Sage] / artist unknown, 1785. Oil on canvas, 77x 63cm or 92 x 78.5 x 11 cm in gilt frame. Portrait, HL, of Mrs. Letitia Ann Sage, 'The first English female aerial traveller' in Lunardi's balloon ascent of 29 June 1785; with balloon motif. Head, bust, white fur mantle, hat and half-veil. aeronaut/balloonist
Whole model, full rigged, of ship of the line, H.M.S. 'Prince'
Contemporary whole rigged (rigged in Museum) model, scale 1:48, of English 1st rate ship of the line of 100/90 guns HMS 'Prince' (1670), showing hull construction method, designed by Peter Pett and made by Chatham Dockyard,
Silver microscope by George Adams, c. 1761.
Silver ‘Universal Double Microscope’ with ornate decoration by George Adams the Elder, Fleet Street, London, c. 1763. The drawer in the base contains several accessories: an alternative eyepiece and eye cap, a stand for the jointed arm, three sets of objectives, talc discs for slides, a fishplate with a glass slide attached, three magnifiers, a pair of stage forceps, a live box, a pair of tweezers and a nosepiece.
Gunter sector signed Elias Allen
Brass Gunter sector made by Elias Allen in 1623, near St Clement's Church (without Temple Bar), London. It is signed 'Elias Allen fecit 1623.'
Telescope by Galileo (replica)
Facsimile of telescope by Galileo with main tube measuring 2-foot, 8 1/2-inches and magnification of 21 times. Made by Cipriani and purchased from the Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale, Florence, Italy in 1923.
Theodolite used for the Principal Triangulation of Great Britain
Main part of three-foot geodetic theodolite, sometimes called the ‘great Theodolite’, used for the Principal Triangulation of Great Britain. Made by Jesse Ramsden, Piccadilly, London, 1791.
Pendulum clock designed by Galileo in 1642 and made by his son in 1649, model.
1642-1649 (original); 1883 (model)
Model showing the first idea of the application of the pendulum to the clock designed by Galileo in 1642, made his son Vincenzo in 1649 and illustrated by Vincenzo Viviani, Italy. This model is by Eustachio Porcellotti, Florence, Italy, 1883.
Isaac Newton’s reflecting telescope (replica)
Replica of Newton's first reflecting telescope made in 1668 and now in the possession of the Royal Society of London. Made for the Science Museum in 1924 by Mr F.L. Agate
Arkwright's prototype spinning machine, 1769.
Original spinning machine, Sir Richard Arkwright and John Kay, England, 1769.
Arkwright's Water Frame
Water frame, water powered spinning machine made by Richard Arkwright, Cromford, c.1775, and used at the Arkwright Mills at Matlock Bath.
Ornate circumcision knife with ivory handle
Small, ornate circumcision knife with triangular blade and carved, cylindrical ivory handle, c. 1780
Wooden statue depicting a plague sufferer, Europe, 1601-1700
Classical & Medieval Medicine
Wooden statue depicting an emaciated figure suffering from plague lying on the ground surrounded by a frog and a lizard possibly 17th century
Portable spinning wheel, labelled 'James Webster,
Portable spinning wheel, labelled 'James Webster, clockmaker, Salop', Mardol, Shrewsbury, England, 1745-1790.
Dividing engine for making sextants and octants
Made late 1700s, modified 1800s
Dividing engine for the manufacture of small scientific instruments such as sextants and octants, made in England, late eighteenth century with nineteenth-century modifications. The cast brass 37 5/8-inch dividing plate is supported on three rollers with a heavy cast metal frame on a large wooden tripod. The general design is similar to Jesse Ramsden’s original dividing engine. This engine was used c.1883-1953 by the firm A. J. Bennett and Co Ltd. (founded by Albert Josiah Bennett), Walworth Road, London, England.
Ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe
Hand and Machine Tools
Ornamental turning 'rose-engine' lathe, unsigned, Germany, c. 1740
Statue of St Mary Magdalene
Classical & Medieval Medicine
Wooden figure of saint Mary Magdalene as a penitent, invoked against plague, ulcers and for children slow or weak, possibly Spanish, 1601-1750
Model of a 28 gun frigate
Model, scale 1:48, rigged, of a 28 gun frigate (c.1785), rigged by Science Museum, Workshops 1907, unsigned, England, 1770-1780. Actual ship designed by Sir John Williams, England, United Kingdom.
Pocket watch by Thomas Tompion
Pocket watch with cylinder escapement and tortoiseshell case made by Thomas Tompion, Fleet Street, London, between 1675 and 1700. Inscribed 'T. Tompion London 3' on the movement and inscribed 'Graham' on the dial.
Telescope by John Yarwell.
Refracting eight-draw telescope made by John Yarwell, Ludgate Street, London, 1685-1695. Inscribed ‘'John Yarwell, Fecit’. The tube is decorated in gold designs on green vellum and features a royal coat of arms.
Telescope by Christopher Cock
Refracting five-draw telescope made by Christopher Cock, Long Acre, London, 1673. Inscribed ‘Christopher Cock Londini 1673’. The tube is decorated in gold designs on red vellum and features a royal coat of arms.
Slide rule by Robert Bissaker
Slide rule made by Robert Bissaker in 1654, Radcliffe (now Wapping), London. Signed 'Robert Bissaker 1654 For T W'. It is the earliest-known dated straight slide rule.
Small orrery by Benjamin Martin
Small orrery on mahogany stand by Benjamin Martin, England, mid-18th century. The orrery shows seven planets (to Uranus), but Uranus is thought to be a later addition.
Section of lightning conductor from St Paul’s cathedral
Iron bar which formed one section of the lightning conductor installed on St. Paul’s cathedral, London, in 1769, as recommended by a Royal Society committee. This bar remained in place until 1899.
George III's philosophical table
King George III
Philosophical table made for King George III by George Adams, Fleet Street, London, 1761-62. A pillar in three pieces, two wooden rings and wooden nut; vertical board with ivory scale (one fixing screw and washer missing) and backing board for pendulum experiments are attached.
Culpeper microscope with boxfoot made by George Adams in 1738
Morland's calculating machine, engraved "Samuel Morland, Inventor, 1666"
Morland's calculating machine, engraved "Samuel Morland, Inventor, 1666"; in leather box Humphrey Adamson, mathemtical instrument maker active 1668-1676, made the calculating machine invented by Samuel Morland.
Replica of refracting telescope by Galileo, 1610
Facsimile of telescope by Galileo, length 4-foot 1 3/4-inches, with a tooled leather tube and magnification of 14, closed complete with lenses. Made by Cipriani and purchased from the Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale, Florence, Italy in 1923.
Celestial globe by Willem Janszoon Blaeu
Celestial globe made by Willem Janszoon Blaeu, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1603.
Pair-cased pocket watch
Pair-cased pocket watch in pinchbeck and leather outer casing with verge escapement, made by Will Kipling, London, 1705-1737. Movement inscribed 'Will Kipling no.483'. The movement consists of silver pillars (jewelled endstone removed).
Clock used for transit of Venus observations, 1769
Regulator clock by John Shelton with glazed mahogany case. One of five such clocks sent with Royal Society expeditions to observe the Transit of Venus on the 3rd June 1769.
Parturition chair, Germany, 1601-1700
Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Contraception
Folding parturition chair, German, 1701-1850
Pedometer by Spencer & Perkins
Pedometer or waywiser with fob hook, made by Spencer & Perkins, 1775-1794.
George III's double-barrelled air pump
King George III
Double barrelled air pump and reservoir, made by George Adams, Fleet Street, London, 1761.
Pocket microscope by Jeremiah Sisson
Pocket microscope in shagreen case made by Jeremiah Sisson, the Strand, London, in 1752. The case acts as both a receptacle by which to store and transport the microscope when not in use and as a base on which the microscope can be attached when in use. It is accompanied by a brass slide holding lenses of varying magnification, a specimen disc and forceps. It once belonged to Stephen Demainbray and is inscribed: 'Dr. Demainbray invent/ J.Sisson London'.