Museo Galileo
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Electric bells
    • Setting:
      Room XI
    • Inventor:
      Benjamin Franklin
    • Maker:
    • Date:
      second half 19th cent.
    • Materials:
      mahogany, brass, nickeled brass, glass
    • Dimensions:
      total height 330 mm, base 345 mm
    • Inventory:
    • Electric bells (Inv. 3116)

Later version of an accessory sold with electrical kits in the late eighteenth century to demonstrate the electrostatic repulsion of like charges and the attraction of unlike charges.

The circular mahogany base and turned pedestals support a series of nickel-plated brass bells attached to brass rods by means of threads. A brass rod terminating in a ball projects from the upper central ball to communicate with an electrical machine. When the connection is established, the clappers oscillate, causing the bells to ring.

The device, described by George Adams in An Essay on Electricity (London, 1799) and by other authors, was long used as a recreational physics "toy." Filippo Lucci depicted a similar device in the Stanzino of the Matematiche of the Uffizi in 1780.

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