Candidate for CDA studentship on "Instruments and their makers," material sent separately to CDA assessors

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: History

Abstract

Candidate for CDA studentship on "Instruments and their makers," material sent separately to CDA assessors

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The project has used a collection of scientific instruments held at the Science Museum from the years 1650-1730, and for which there are very few paper records of why they were created and why, to study and understand how the instruments were made, where and for whom. The major finding of the research is that the existing historical ideas of when workshops changed from one person, one skill, to subcontracted workshops where sophisticated parts and materials were outsourced, does not account for the very likely changes that took place for the creation of early telescopes and microscopes and watches.

The project has taken items within the Science Museum and aimed to find out more about their history, through visual examination, and deduction of materials, and skills. For example, one of the major findings relates to a telescope from the 1670s. Telescopes were made of cardboard, itself made from recycled paper, before metal replaced paper in the 1800s. The paper was often covered in vellum, dyed and painted. Research into one item lead to the identification of words on the paper, from which I have found the book that the paper was used from, what this book was, where it was sold, who by and where.

An under-studied resource is the Science Museum's collection of 'trade cards'. These are small pieces of paper that makers and sellers used to advertise their goods and services. Doctoral and academic studies have been carried out on much larger collections, such as at the British Museum, and to cover longer time periods. The thesis has researched the Science Museum's own, niche, collection relating to scientific instruments to analyse how makers identified and presented (or branded) their businesses.

Research has been conducted at the Royal Society, with particular focus on their early classified papers, in order to uncover details about transactions for instruments, and early ideas about where makers and instruments could be sourced.
Exploitation Route Insights into individual instruments, or trade cards, can be used within the Museum context for further research. It may be possible with more detail about the materials used, to find documentary evidence relating to individual instruments, but this is beyond the scope of a doctoral study focusing on three major types (watches, telescopes and microscopes, mathematical instruments).


The overall thesis argument about the changing nature of contracting out work and economic theories on when this happened, could be applied to other historical industries.
Sectors Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description XXXVI Scientific Instrument Symposium, Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, Leiden. 3-7 September 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a 20 minute paper on my recent findings on 'trade cards' to the International Scientific Instrument Symposium. The event is attended from academic, curatorial and experts in the field from across the world. Multiple questions and comments on the content of my subject led to further research and changes to the chapter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description BBC History Weekend Fringe Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the BBC History Magazine's Weekend in York, I gave a 10 minute talk as part of the free 'fringe' event, explaining the purpose of my research to a non-specialised audience. An audience of approximately 15-20 people attended the event. Questions from the audience drew links to people's own professional backgrounds, including from the perspective of historic books in libraries, and engineering.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description London 1600-1800 Communities of Natural Knowledge and Artificial Practice, Science Museum, London. 16-17 June 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A workshop for the AHRC project Metropolitan Science, being carried out by Rebekah Higgitt. As part of a panel at the workshop that aimed to collate much research and knowledge on the period and topic, I presented a 10 minute paper outlining the history of Gresham College, at the invitation of Jim Bennett.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Provocations Workshop - Researching Objects, Tate Britain, London. 27 July 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact With a group of no more than 12 fellow collaborative doctoral researchers, I presented a 10 minute talk on an object connected to my research as part of the workshop held at Tate Britain. This was an all day workshop that resulted in discussion on approaching museum collections and artefacts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Research Seminar, Science Museum, London. 14 November 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a 45 minute research paper to the Science Museum's researchers, followed by questions and answers. Much of the discussion acted as a debate between differing views and changes to the direction of my research came directly from comments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017