Museo Galileo
Virtual Museum
Volta hydrogen lamp with electrophorus
    • Setting:
      Room XI
    • Inventor:
      Alessandro Volta
    • Maker:
    • Date:
      early 19th cent.
    • Materials:
      wood, glass, brass
    • Dimensions:
      total height 545 mm, base 290x290x110 mm
    • Inventory:
    • Volta hydrogen lamp with electrophorus (Inv. 1251)

A more sophisticated version of the hydrogen lamp invented by Alessandro Volta (inv. 1243). Incomplete. A glass bottle rests on a wooden box whose top is fitted with a brass collar and stop-cock. A vase-shaped glass reservoir is fitted to a brass collar above the stop-cock. The bottle contained hydrogen generated by reaction between diluted sulfuric acid and zinc. The gas was expelled from a nozzle (missing) by the pressure of the water pouring from the reservoir. An electrophorus was used to produce a spark in the spark gap. This ignited the gas, lighting the taper. The electrophorus is in the base of the instrument and can be removed for charging by rubbing with silk or cat fur. A key moved the spark-producing upper electrophorus plate and the gas stop-cock simultaneously. Provenance: Lorraine collections.