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.
Babbage's Analytical Engine, 1834-1871. (Trial model)
Computing & Data Processing
Analytical engine constructed by the late Chas. Babbage, F.R.S., (this was not put together when received and there are still many pieces, moulds etc. received in 1878, on exhibition in the gallery) Charles Babbage's calculating engines are among the most celebrated icons in the prehistory of computing. His Difference Engine No. 1 was the first successful automatic calculator and remains one of the finest examples of precision engineering of the time. The portion shown was assembled in 1832 by Babbage's engineer, Joseph Clement. It consists of about 2000 parts and represents one-seventh of the complete engine. This 'finished portion of the unfinished engine' was demonstrated to some acclaim by Babbage, and functions impeccably to this day. The engine was never completed and most of the 12 000 parts manufactured were later melted for scrap.
Wax anatomical model of a female showing internal organs, Florence, Italy, 1818
Anatomy & Pathology
Wax anatomical model of female torso and head, showing internal organs, with removable heart, on wooden display cabinet, by Francesco Calenzuoli, Italian, dated 1818
Packet of 10 'Gold Flake' cigarettes
Packet of 10 'Gold Flake' cigarettes by W D & HO Wills, England, 1920-1950
Crick and Watson's DNA molecular model
Reconstruction of the double helix model of DNA, using some of the original metal plates, by Francis Crick and James Watson, England, 1953
Sokol space suit
British astronaut, Helen Sharman's Sokol spacesuit made by Zvezda. Sharman wore this rescue suit during the space flight on board the SOYUZ-TM-12 and MIR spacecraft in May 1991. Space suit model number KV-2 No. 167.
Coalbrookdale by Night
Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg
Coalbrookdale by Night by Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg, 1801. Oil on canvas in gilt frame. Signed and dated bottom right. Exhibited as 'A View of Colebrook Dale by night' at the Royal Academy London in 1801. It shows the Bedlam furnaces at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, with flames and smoke billowing from the centre of the picture. The picturesque gorge landscape to either side is lit by moonlight, and figures hurry in the foreground to transport raw materials and iron pigs.
Rover 'Safety' bicycle, 1885
Rover safety bicycle of 1885. (First embodiment of the modern arrangement.) (Saddle re-made by Brooks in 1961).
Liquid-filled plastic lens television magnifier, 1935-1965
'Standlens' liquid-filled plastic lens for magnifying a television picture, mounted on adjustable wooden stand, probably made by Lumex, probably British, 1935-1965
Soyuz TMA-19M descent module, S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Public Corporation “Energia”
Soyuz TMA-19M descent module, S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Public Corporation “Energia”, Russia, 2015
Three-ring Enigma cypher machine in oak wood transit case
Three-ring Enigma cypher machine complete in oak wood transit case, together with original German battery (Serial number A6421/1937), unsigned, Germany, 1934 (see Note)
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.
Philips 'Savvy' mobile telephone, 1999-2003
Philips "Savvy" (TCD128) mobile phone, manufactured by Philips, France, 1999-2003
'Over London-by Rail', engraving, London, England, 1872
Wood engraving from 'London: a pilgrimage', by Gustave Dore, 1872. Signed in the block blc: Over London - by Rail. Depicting [East End] tenements, washing in back gardens, chimney pots, railway in distance.
Alarm clock, mounted on model of coffin
Anatomy & Pathology
Alarm clock, mounted on model of coffin with skeleton, probably English, 1840-1900
NeXT cube computer, 1990
"NeXTcube," a NeXT computer, including screen, keyboard and mouse, made by NeXT, Redwood CIty, California, United States, 1990. Used by Tim Berners-Lee to design the World Wide Web, at CERN, 1990.
Philips TCD308 mobile telephone, 1997-2001
Philips Cellnet 'Diga' TCD308 mobile phone, made by Philips, France, 1997. CN: VYP09902E04442
Joseph Jackson Lister's microscope, London, England, 1826
The first achromatic microscope made for J.J. Lister by James Smith, London, 1826
Apollo 10 command module, call sign 'Charlie Brown'
Apollo 10 command module, call sign 'Charlie Brown', by North American Rockwell Corporation, Downey, Los Angeles county, California, United States, American, 1969. Apollo 10, carrying astronauts Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan, was launched in May 1969 on a lunar orbital mission as the dress rehearsal for the actual Apollo 11 landing. Stafford and Cernan descended in the Lunar Module to within 14 kilometres of the surface of the Moon, the closest approach until Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin in Apollo 11 landed on the surface two months later.
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Dried merman, possibly Dutch or Japanese, possibly a Javanese ritual figure, possibly 1850-1900.
Terrestrial Globe by George Adams
King George III
Terrestrial globe, on mahogany tripod stand with compass with glazed mahogany case made by George Adams, Fleet Street, London, 1766. Inscribed 'Made by G. ADAMS Fleet Street LONDON' on the compass.
Pair of prosthetic limbs, for Thalidomide affected 9-year old child
Pair of prosthetic limbs made for a child, Tracey Baynam, aged 9 years, affected by thalidomide, made by J E Hanger, United Kingdom, May 1971
Packet of ten 'Abdulla' cigarettes
Packet of 10 cigarettes by Abdulla & Co. Ltd., 173 New Bond Street, London, England, 1920-1950
'Build a Better Burger' game
Nutrition & Food Technology
Game, 'Build a Better Burger' game for 2-4 players ages 5 and over, marked 'All the action of a real fast food restaurant!', players compete to be the first to assemble a meal according to the menu card they select, made by Action Games and Toys Ltd, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, under license from Lakeside Games (a division of Leisure Dynamic Inc, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA), 1984-1986.
Difference Engine No 1
Computing & Data Processing
Portion of Babbage's calculating machine (Difference Engine No.1)
Personal Computer, model Apple I
Computing & Data Processing
Personal Computer, model Apple I, devised by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and Ron Wayne, and made by Apple Inc, United States, 1976-1979.
'Puffing Billy' locomotive
Locomotives and Rolling Stock
Locomotive 'Puffing Billy'. Driving wheel diameter 3 feet 3 inches; cylinders 9 inches x 36 inches; working pressure 50lb; weight approximately 8 tons, exclusive of tender.
Tracy, a transgenic sheep
Tracy, a transgenic ewe. Genetically modified to produce a human protein (alpha antitrypsin) in her milk, 1990-97.
Foucault Pendulum for demonstrating the Earth's rotation
Foucault pendulum designed by A.B. Pippard and built at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, including suspension, sustaining mechanism and bob
Dental pelican for tooth pulling
Dental pelican, double ended, with 2 claws, steel, European, 1701-1800
Ped-O-Jet mass inoculation gun
Public Health & Hygiene
Multidose Jet Injection Apparatus, known as 'PED-O-JET', hydraulically powered, by Scientific Equipment Manufacturing Corp, New York, U.S.A., 1970-1975
Cat-o-nine tails, United Kingdom, 1700-1850
Cat o'nine tails, whip-cord with wooden handle, reputedly British Navy, 1700-1850
Builder's whole, rigged model, of SS 'Great Eastern', 1853-1857
Builder's whole, rigged model, scale 1:96, of SS 'Great Eastern' by John Scott Russell and Company, Millwall, London, England, 1853-1857
Louis Pasteur’s compound microscope
Compound monocular microscope used by Louis Pasteur
'Jason I', de Havilland DH.60G Gipsy Moth
De Havilland Gipsy moth Aeroplane 'Jason I', by De Havilland Aircraft Company, Brent, Greater London, United Kingdom, 1928. Used on historic flight of Miss Amy Johnson to Australia, May 1930, DH.60G, G-AAAH
Packet of 'De Reszke Minors' cigarettes
Packet of 'De Reszke' minors cigarettes by J Millhoff & Co. Ltd., Picadilly, London, 1920-1950
Bowl from Hiroshima, Japan
Porcelain bowl, retrieved from Hiroshima after the atomic bomb explosion, unsigned, Japan, August 1945
Packet of 20 Death cigarettes, London, England, 1999
Packet of 20 Death cigarettes, labelled: 'Manufacturer's advice: Cigarettes are addictive and debilitating. If you don't smoke, don't start. Death is a responsible way to market a legally available consumer product which kills people when used exactly as intended. Death cigarettes: For an honest smoke', made in the EC under the authority of The Enlightened Tobacco Company Plc, London, c.1999.
Packet of Craven 'A' cigarettes
Packet of Craven 'A' cigarettes by Carreras Ltd, Arcadia Works, London, England, 1920-1950
Bush TV22 Television Receiver, 1945-1955
Bush TV22 9 inch television receiver, made by Bush Radio Limited, England, 1945-1955. With band III convertor, 1957
Sewing machine by Elias Howe
Lockstitch sewing machine by Elias Howe, Lowell, Massachusetts, United States, made about 1846, the first sewing machine to be brought to England from America in that year.
'Jedi' helmet, used with Cryogenic Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machine
One of five 'Jedi helmets,' silver inner helmet, used with Cryogenic Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machine and associated computing equipment by Data General, United States,1980.
Compound microscope used by Joseph Jackson Lister
Microscope, English, 1830-1850, given to Lord Lister by his father J.J. Lister in 1849
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.
Nokia 1011 mobile telephone, 1992-1994
Nokia 1011 mobile phone, manufactured by Nokia, Germany, 1992-1994. An example of the first mass produced phone to be available for use on the GSM digital mobile networks.
Bird cage from Sussex Lunatic Asylum
Psychology, Psychiatry & Anthropometry
Bird cage, from ward at Sussex Lunatic Asylum/Brighton County Borough Asylum, 1859-1939. Vintage label reads: 'PARROT CAGE / Major Meek presented the female / patients with four fine parrots.'