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From “Victorian Inventions” by Leonard De Vries published by American Heritage Press in 1972part1_040_ill

On 2nd July 1869 a demonstration was given in a hall in Shell Mound Lake, California, with a small model airship which its inventor Mr Frederick Mariott names the ‘Avitor.’ Shaped like a cigar, it is 37 feet long and the diameter in the middle is 11 feet. The ‘Avitor’ has two wings under each of which there is a propeller driven by a steam-engine. The airship appeared to operate perfectly in the hall but in the open air, even in a gentle breeze, it was entirely unsatisfactory and we therefore do not expect that Mr Mariott’s invention will be a practical success.


This is one of the few places in the whole book where the publication that first published the article show even the slightest doubt about the project at hand and it was refreshing to see – Ted

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From “Victorian Inventions” by Leonard De Vries published by American Heritage Press in 1972
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We illustrate one of the most novel types of swimming apparatus permitting the user to achieve a speed of between 4 and 6 miles per hour, according to the American inventor, Mr William A. Richardson. By means of a central, longitudinal shaft, the cranking movements of hands and feet are transferred to a four-bladed propeller allowing the swimmer to proceed rapidly and easily.


Since the bloke on the illustration seems to be rather off balance I guess that would be one of the problems with this lamebrain device. And since there doesn’t seem to be any floating arrangement on the thing, keeping afloat would be another. It makes one wonder what else was on the market if this was an improvement – Ted
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From “Victorian Inventions” by Leonard De Vries published by American Heritage Press in 1972

part1_038_ill

Nowadays anyone who wishes to know his weight, have his portrait taken, his future foretold or who wants a travel insurance, a savings certificate, a newspaper, a packet of chocolate, or sweets, or even a squirt of perfume on his handkerchief, need have no more than a penny in his pocket. By inserting this coin into one of the ubiquitous automatic machines which one encounters everywhere it is veritable child’s play to become the owner of one of these fine things.

And now an apparatus has also been invented which will permit us to enjoy electric light for fully half an hour, and that on payment of a negligible sum. If a penny is inserted in the slot marked A it will fall into B and then one can depress the knob which bears the legend ‘Push hard’. This movement winds up a clockwork motor which connects up a circuit of several accumulators and a lamp for the space of half an hour. If the device is out of order if, for example, a filament is broken the coin will tumble out again at C.

The object of the inventors is to give travellers in trains and aboard ships a cheap but abundant supply of soft light for a limited time whenever they require it, thus enabling them to read, write, play games or pursue any of the hundred and one activities with which we can while away the time when on a journey. In this respect the electric incandescent lamp puts its humble sister in the shade-we refer, of course, to the gas lamp which in our third class carriages scarcely affords sufficient light to light a cigar by.


And the bloody idea caught on didn’t it. In motels, hotels, on boats, at airport or anywhere else a bastard can installed a coin slot you have to pay for TV viewing, gas, hot water or whatever – Ted 😉

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From “Victorian Inventions” by Leonard De Vries published by American Heritage Press in 1972

part1_036_illpart1_036_headingMonsieur Francois Barathon of Paris has developed a swimming-buoy that can be propelled like a velocipede for the purpose of saving life at sea. The shipwrecked person sits on an inflated rubber bag placed on a curved metal plate to which a frame, is attached: This frame contains a metal propeller facing rearward which is driven by the arms and a downward shaft with a horizontal propeller driven by pedalling with the feet. The occupant can also increase his speed by erecting a short mast with a sail. The device is equipped with a lamp which may attract the attention of potential life-savers after darkness has fallen.


There is no limit to how many of these life saving devices for the shipwrecked the Victorians managed to take out patents on. In this case I’m just wondering about how the unfortunate person gets off the sinking ship on this strange contraption. Or was it supposed to be hanging one for everyone on-board along the ships side so you just mounted it and let it drop into the sea. And what happened when you got to tired to keep the propellers going, it doesn’t seam to have much of a floating devices, so you probably sank like a stone after a while – Ted

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From “Victorian Inventions” by Leonard De Vries published by American Heritage Press in 1972

part1_037_ill

On 20th November 1895 the Call, a San Francisco newspaper, published an article under the title ‘Vessel to roll on the watergiving an account of a ship which, it was claimed, could compete with the fastest of trains for speed. The inventor, Mr Chapman, gave the following account of his vessel: the hold, bridge and passenger cabins seem to be squeezed between two gigantic rollers journalled [ i.e. on bearings] in gangways on either side of the ship. The interior of each roller is equipped with a narrow-gauge track on which a locomotive driven by electricity can run. As soon as the locomotive is set in motion, the huge drums start rolling, moving the ship in a forward direction. Very high speeds may be attained. Mr Chapman even claims that the top speed of his vessel will not ‘be much less than that of a modern, fast train so that the crossing of the Atlantic between New York and Britain may take only three days or even forty-eight hours while the passengers will also be virtually free from sea-sickness.


Yet another hairbrain idea that would never leave the drawing board. But it looks good on paper doesn’t it – Ted 😉
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From “Victorian Inventions” by Leonard De Vries published by American Heritage Press in 1972part1_035_ill

Professor E. J. Marey in Paris, who is engaged on the study of the way in which birds move, has hit upon the idea of making a kind of photographic machine-gun with which a series of pictures of a bird in flight can be obtained within a very short space of time. The difficulty here was not the sensitivity of the bromide of silver and gelatine layer on which the pictures must be formed, but in the speed with which the sensitive plate must move in order to come into the focal spot of the lens. Marey succeeded in constructing a device the size of a hunting-rifle which photographs the object aimed at twelve times in one second, each picture requiring a pose of only 1/720 second. The barrel of the rifle is a tube containing the camera lens. At the rear there is a cylindrical drum attached to the butt of the rifle and containing a clockwork motor.

The system of gear-wheels which imparts the necessary speed to the various parts is set in motion by pulling the trigger. These parts are attached to a shaft which rotates twelve times per second. First, there is a metal disc containing a tiny window which permits the light from the lens to enter twelve times per Second, and for rto second each time. Behind this is a second metal disc which has twelve apertures, against which the sensitised glass plate is placed. This second disc and the glass plate rotate only once per second, stopping briefly after each rotation so that the image of the bird can enter through the window in the first metal disc twelve times in succession . and fall on different parts of the glass plate.

After some aiming practice, Marey obtained very satisfactory photographs in which each complete beat of a seagull’s wing was depicted in three exposures. Marey considered this inadequate and doubled the speed at which the glass plate and the metal discs rotated. In this way he obtained very good pictures, despite the fact that the light impression of the bird’s image then struck the sensitive silver layer for only li40 second.

Marley is now building up a large collection of various species of birds in flight, both hovering and flapping their wings, and in differing conditions of wind direction and velocity, varying from absolute calm to storm force. He has even succeeded in photographing bats despite the lateness of the hour at which they fly and the unpredictable nature of their flight. He hopes that a close study of these pictures will help him to cast a new light on the way in which winged creatures are able to rise into the air and fly. This may also prove useful with respect to the, so far consistently unsuccessfulattempts made by man to create flyingmachines.


Back in the Victorian days I would think you should be very careful about who you pointed the photographic rifle at. It would be a pity getting shot because you were merely taking someone’s picture – Ted

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From “Victorian Inventions” by Leonard De Vries published by American Heritage Press in 1972

part1_034_illa Front and rear view of the electric chair to be used for Kemmler’s execution.
A: The electrode pressed to the head.
 

part1_034_illb Switch gear for the electric chair.

part1_034_illc First design for the electric chair.

part1_034_headingThe State of New York may justly congratulate itself on the fact that the barbaric punishment of death by hanging is to be abolished in favour of a more humane and scientific method of execution: as from 1st January 1889, criminals will be put to death by electrocution. The engraving gives an impression of what the ‘electric chair’ will probably look like. The poles of a dynamo are connected by a switching device to a metal electrode clamped round the condemned man’s head, and to the metal seat of the chair, sponges or wet cloths being applied at the points of contact to ensure a perfect electrical connection. Extensive experiments carried out with dogs have shewn that electrocution causes almost instantaneous death, eliminating the gruesome writhing movements of the hanged in the moments before death ensues. There is no doubt that for a civilised country which wishes to put an end to the barbaric horrors of the past the electric chair represents the best method of inflicting the death penalty.


Personally I thought civilised countries didn’t practice the death penalties, it’s not very civilised when you think about it, but then again, I live in a country that removed death penalties from it’s laws  in the mid 1880’s. They were I ought to mention brought back to handle the war criminals after WWII, but then removed from the laws again  – Ted

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