Electrically Welded Specimen, Bicycle Seat Post


This bicycle’s welded steel seat post was created using Elihu Thomson’s electric welding apparatus (see object number MC*181724). Welding samples demonstrated the potential industrial applications of electric welding, and illustrations of these samples were published in journals, brochures, and advertisements. Elihu Thomson’s invention of electric welding in 1885 resulted in numerous industrial applications including the manufacture of automobile parts, tools, screws, ball bearings, and wire lines. Thomson’s welding apparatus pressed two pieces of metal together while an electric current ran through the metal. Resistance to the current at the contact point between the metal pieces created heat and welded the metals together.

Scientist and inventor Elihu Thomson (1853-1937) played a prominent role in the industrialization and electrification of America with over 700 patents in his name. His inventions and patents helped change the nature of industry in the United States and included the “uniflow” steam engine, automobile muffler, producing fused quartz, stereoscopic x-ray pictures, electric arc lamps, lightning arrestors, and perhaps most notably—the process of electrical welding. Thomson and partner Edwin Houston established the Thomson-Houston Electric Company in 1883. In 1892 Thomson-Houston merged with the Edison Electric Company to form General Electric.

Date Made: 1886

Maker: Thomson, Elihu

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Work and Industry: Electricity, Energy & Power, Industry & Manufacturing, Thomson Welding


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: from Thomson Electrical Welding Co., thru Elihu Thomson

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: EM.181674Catalog Number: 181674Accession Number: 33015

Object Name: welding sample

Physical Description: steel (overall material)Measurements: overall: 7 in x 3 3/4 in x 1 1/8 in; 17.78 cm x 9.525 cm x 2.8575 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a5-4989-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_705971

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.