Description (Brief):

Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) used this tellurian in his Northumberland, Pennsylvania laboratory. Priestley, the noted chemist whose accomplishments include the discovery of oxygen, was born in England. He lived and worked in Birmingham for many years, but his views as a Dissenter and an advocate of the French Revolution incited an angry mob into burning down his house and laboratory. In 1794 he fled to America, eventually settling in Northumberland, near Philadelphia. His great-great-granddaughter, Frances Priestley, donated his surviving laboratory ware to the Smithsonian in 1883.

Description (Brief)


Description (Brief)

National Museum of American History Accession File #13305

This astronomical demonstration device belonged to Joseph Priestley (1733–1804), a noted English chemist and dissenter who moved to the United States in the 1790s and settled in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. It was in poor condition when his descendants donated it to the Smithsonian in 1883. In preparation for display in the new National Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History), the device was sent to L. C. Eichner, an accomplished instrument maker, for repair. Going several steps further than conservators would do today, Eichner recreated a complex orrery / tellurian of the sort devised by the instrument maker, William Jones, in London in the early 1780s.

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: Science & Scientific Instruments


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences, Joseph Priestley, Science & Mathematics


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: PH.315353Accession Number: 13305Catalog Number: 315353

Object Name: Tellurian / Orrery


Record Id: nmah_1446262

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