A Catalogue of Instruments and Models in the Possession of the American Philosophical Society

By Robert P. Multhauf | Go to book overview

XI
Heating Appliances

Yet another cardinal problem of eighteenth-century technology was that of domestic heating. As a subject of interest to Franklin, it is not surprising that proposals for the improvement of heating devices are frequently mentioned in the early records of the Society. In 1796 it offered a premium of sixty dollars for the improvement of stoves or fireplaces, particularly with a view to the "benefit of the poorer class of people," for whom earlier improvements in this field had proven too expensive. A surviving report of a committee on this contest, dated May 6, 1797, lists three applications, two of which still exist in the archives, along with another received after the close of the contest. The missing application was, unfortunately, that of the ultimate winner, who had identified himself as "Oeconomy." Neither he nor the other contestants identified themselves by name.30

Less diffident was another pair of stove-improvers, Charles Willson Peale and his son Raphaelle, who brought their ideas on heating before the Society at this time. But the Peales do not seem to have involved themselves in the stove contest, perhaps because they were not prepared to do so before the closing date. In any case their improvements were subsequently made the subject of a patent application, and on November 16, 1797, the Peales were granted what was the first United States patent on a fireplace. Like most of the other early patents, this one was subsequently lost in the Patent Office fire of 1836.

With the rise of the anthracite coal industry, Pennsylvanians had another and more peculiar problem in relation to heating, which was to become the subject of another contest. This was in the utilization of anthracite dust, which accumulated into veritable mountains as a by-product of the mining methods used for this rock-like fuel. In November, 1866, the Society offered an

____________________
30
The announcement of the stove contest is printed in Trans. Amer. Philos. Soc. o.s., 4: v, 1799. The report of the committee is in the archives. The three surviving applications are in the Manuscript Communications on Trade, Navigation, Manufacturing, etc., Nos. 18, 20, and 22. I am indebted to Mr. S. Y. Edgerton for calling my attention to these entries and for advice in identifying these models.

-54-

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A Catalogue of Instruments and Models in the Possession of the American Philosophical Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Early Museums of Instruments and Models 1
  • The American Philosophical Society 4
  • I - Apparatus for Astronomy, Geodesy, And Surveying. 8
  • II - Electrical Apparatus 16
  • III - Geographical Apparatus and Models 21
  • IV - Meteorological Apparatus 24
  • V - Apparatus for Physical Science and Medicine 26
  • VI - Mathematical Instruments and Models 34
  • VII - Mechanical Models 36
  • VIII - Agricultural Machinery 42
  • IX - Ship Models and Nautical Instruments 44
  • X - Timekeeping 49
  • XI - Heating Appliances 54
  • XII - Apparatus for the Graphic Arts 60
  • List of Specimens by Catalogue Number 63
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