Thursday, August 14, 2008

Interesting inventions

The Daily Mail has an interesting article on Victorian and Edwardian inventions, some of which seem before their time.

I find the automatic tea-maker fascinating, in a Heath Robinson-ish sort of way.

Patented in Birmingham in 1902, this brass and copper tea maker was the first Teasmade. The alarm clock triggered a switch and a match was then struck against moving sandpaper, lighting the spirit stove under the kettle. Once the water boiled, the steam pressure lifted a hinged flap and the kettle would tilt, filling the teapot beneath. Finally, a plate would swing over the stove, extinguishing its flames.

Then there's the finger-stretcher for pianists:

Developed in America in 1910 to help pianists hit the sprawling notes demanded by the likes of Stravinsky and Debussy. Careful use was required: it is thought the composer Schumann destroyed his hands using an early version.

How about an early food processor?

The modern food processor is something we take for granted - just fill the bowl and push the switch. More satisfying - and quieter - was this Victorian food chopper. Turning the handle pushes the cutting arm up and down and rotates the bowl at the same time.

And, once you've digested the output of the food processor, you could dispose of the detritus in this early toilet!

In the 19th century, the cost of using a public convenience, such as this, was one penny - hence the phrase 'to spend a penny'. This decorative 1870s water closet was manufactured by Mr Jennings - a plumber who made his name installing such WCs at the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851.

It seems odd to think that my great-grandparents and grandparents were around at the time these things came out. My grandfather, born in the late 19th century, was the youngest of 21 children. I bet his mother would have been a fan of the Pill if some Victorian genius had invented it!

There are more interesting inventions at the link.



Home on the Range said...

I want the food processor. I love old tools and the like.

Carteach said...

Gadgets! I love old mechanical contrivances. The one's you have shown are fascinating.

Unknown said...

Friend bought one of the food processors shown but it has missing parts. At least I have a picture for him now so he can see what it looked like when it was operational. He is missing the bowl and chopping knife as well as the handle for the crank, Vert unique.