Magneto-Electric Machine

Magneto-Electric Machine

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Ari Davis (ca. 1811-1855) was a skilled American craftsman who received two patents in 1854. One (#10,788 of April 18) described a machine for producing wooden boxes with metal-reinforced dovetail corners. The other (#11,415 of August 1) described a magneto-electric machine. While this second patent was still in process, Davis sold the rights to both patents to Walter Kidder, a physician in Lowell, Massachusetts, allegedly for $4000. Advertisements for DAVIS’ (later DAVIS & KIDDER’S) PATENT MAGNETO-ELECTRIC MACHINE, FOR NERVOUS DISEASES were soon to be seen, with testimonials from three Americans involved with science: Benjamin Silliman at Yale College, Charles G. Page in Washington, D.C., and James R. Chilton, an instrument dealer in New York City. These machines were “MANUFACTURED BY W. KIDDER, Sole Proprietor, whose signature is attached to all genuine Machines.” By 1857, the business was in the hands of William H. Burnap (b. 1825), also of Lowell. By 1865, Burnap was working in New York City, and advertising as “Manufacturer of Davis & Kidder’s Electric Machines.”
This example has a wood box with brass corners and ivory handle. The paper label is marked “DAVIS & KIDDER’S / PATENT MAGNETO-ELECTRIC MACHINE / FOR NERVOUS DISEASES.” At left, “ENDORSED / AND USED BY THE / Leading Physicians / throughout the / UNITED STATES / AND EUROPE” and at right “W. H. BURNAP MANUFACTURER / AND / Sole Proprietor, / NEW YORK, / U.S.A.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
electro-magnetic machines
Other Terms
date made
late 19th Century
19th Century
W. H. Burnap
place made
United States: New York, New York
overall: 11 cm x 26 cm x 16 cm; 4 5/16 in x 10 1/4 in x 6 5/16 in
ID Number
MG.M-10486 [dup1]
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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