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This crank-operated device shows the orbital motions of Mercury, Venus, and the Earth around the Sun, and the Moon around Earth. The circular wooded base rests on three short feet, and is covered with an ornately engraved paper plate. One cherub on this plate holds a sign that reads “Designed for the / NEW PORTABLE / ORRERIES / by W. Jones.” Another cherub holds a sign that reads “and made and sold by / W. & S. JONES / 135 Holborn / London.” There is also “A TABLE of the principal AFFECTIONS of the / PLANETS / Jan’y 1st 1794 / Published as the Act directs by / W. & S. Jones”
William S. Disbrow, a physician in Newark, N.J., who attained fame as a collector of art, books and scientific specimens, gave this instrument to the Smithsonian in 1902.
William Jones (1763-1831) and his brother Samuel (d. 1859) made and sold mathematical, optical and philosophical instruments. They began in business at 135 Holborn in 1792, and moved to 30 Holborn in 1800.
Ref: William Jones, The Description and Use of a New Portable Orrery on a Simple Construction (London, 1784).
Henry C. King and John R. Millburn, Geared to the Stars. The Evolution of Planetariums, Orreries, and Astronomical Clocks (Toronto, 1978), pp. 207-210.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Orrery / Tellurian
date made
W. & S. Jones
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
overall: 7 in x 13 in; 17.78 cm x 33.02 cm
overall: 6 3/4 in x 12 5/8 in; 17.145 cm x 32.0675 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
William S. Disbrow
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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