George Adams (optician)

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George Adams Sr (1720?-1773) was an English optical designer and scientific writer who was also well known as a maker of mathematical instruments and globes. Among his works are a Treatise on the Construction and Use of Globes (1766) and an "Essay on the Microscope" (1771).

Biography[edit]

His son, George Adams Jr. (1750– August 14, 1795), continued his father's work with his younger brother Dudley, publishing an Essay on Vision (1789) and Astronomical and Geometrical Essays (1789) and succeeding his father as Instrument Maker to King George II and the British East India Company. Born in Southampton he was later appointed Optician to the Prince of Wales. His instruments included barometers, microscopes, orreries, sectors, telescopes, and a variety of electrical appliances. He also made geographical globes.

He also wrote An Essay on Electricity: Explaining the Theory and Practice of that Useful Science, and the Mode of Applying it to Medical Purposes (London, 1784), which ran to four editions in his lifetime. A fifth edition with an appendix about 'Medical Electricity' by John Birch, a surgeon and author of Della Forza dell'Electricita (Naples, 1778), was published in 1799 with corrections and additions by William Jones, mathematical instrument maker. Adams presented a general theory of electricity and, in line with George IIIs interest in the practical applications of science, an essay detailing its possible medical uses. Sections of the book included: Of electricity in general; Of the electrical machine, with directions for exciting it; The properties of electric attraction and repulsion illustrated by experiments with light bodies; Entertaining experiments by the attraction and repulsion of light bodies, with some remarks on electrical attraction; Of the electrical sparks; Of the electrified points; Of the Leyden phial; Of the electrical battery, and the lateral explosion of charged jars; Of the influence of pointed conductors for buildings; To charge a plate of air; Of the electrophorus; Of atmospherical electricity; Of the diffusion and subdivision of fluids by electricity; Of the electric light in vacuo; Of medical electricity; Miscellaneous experiments and observations; An essay on magnetism. The six engraved plates contained 105 figures, mostly illustrating various experimental instruments constructed by Adams, often at the request of the king, and including a frock-coated patient apparently undergoing electrical therapy.

At Adams' death the stock of his unsold books was acquired by the scientific instrument makers W. and S. Jones. William and Samuel Jones had a shop at 135 Holborn Hill, London. The business moved to 30 Holborn in 1800.

A fine example of his work, a mathematical instrument set, is currently on display at the Science Museum (London) and can also be found in their image archives - see external link below.

Bibliography[edit]

George Adams, Sr.[edit]

  • A Treatise Describing The Construction And Explaining The Use Of New Celestial And Terrestrial Globes. Second Edition. (London: 1769)
  • A Treatise Describing The Construction And Explaining The Use Of New Celestial And Terrestrial Globes. Fifth Edition. (London: 1782)

George Adams, Jr.[edit]

  • An Essay on Electricity; in which the Theory and Practice of that Useful Science, are illus by a Variety of Experiments. First Edition. (London: Printed at the Logographic Press for the Author, 1784)
  • An Essay on Electricity, explaining The Theory and Practice of that useful Science; and the mode of applying it to Medical Purposes. With an Essay on Magnetism. The Second Edition. Corrected and Considerably Enlarged. (London: Printed at the Logographic Press for the Author, 1785)
  • Versuch über die Elektricität, worinn Theorie und Ausübung dieser Wissenschaft durch eine Menge methodisch geordneter Experimente erläutert wird, nebst einem Versuch über den Magnet. Aus dem Englischen, mit sechs Kupfertafeln. First German edition. (Leipzig: Schwickertschen, 1785)
  • Versuch über die Elektricität, worinn Theorie und Ausübung dieser Wissenschaft durch eine Menge methodisch geordneter Experimente erläutert wird, nebst einem Versuch über den Magnet [.]. Aus dem Englischen. First Austrian edition. (Vienna, Johann Thomas von Trattner, 1786)
  • An Essay On Electricity, Explaining The Theory And Practice Of That Useful Science, And The Mode Of Applying It To Medical Purposes. With An Essay On Magnetism. Third Edition. (London: R. Hindmarsh, 1787)
  • Essays on the Microscope. First edition. (London: Robert Hindmarsh, 1787)
  • An Essay on Vision, Briefly Explaining the Fabric of the Eye, and the Nature of Vision: Intended for the Service of Those Whose Eyes are Weak or Impaired: Enabling Them to Form an Accurate Idea of the True State of Their Sight, the Means of Preserving it. First Edition. (London: R. Hindmarsh, 1789)
  • Astronomical and Geographical Essays Containing I. A full and comprehensive view, on a new plan, of the General Principles of Astronomy; II. The use of the Celestial and Terrestrial Globes, Exemplified in a greater Variety of Problems, than are to be found in any other Work; III. The description and use of ths most improved Planetarium, Tellurian, and Lunarium; IV. An Introduction to Practical Astronomy. Second Edition. (London: R. Hindmarsh, 1790)
  • An Essay on Vision, Briefly Explaining the Fabric of the Eye, and the Nature of Vision: Intended for the Service of Those Whose Eyes are Weak or Impaired: Enabling Them to Form an Accurate Idea of the True State of Their Sight, the Means of Preserving it. Second Edition. (London: R. Hindmarsh, 1792)
  • Lectures on Natural and Experimental Philosophy, Considered in its Present State of Improvement. Describing, in a Familiar and Easy Manner, The Principal Phenomena of Nature, and Shewing, That They All Co-operate in Displaying the Goodness, Wisdom, and Power of God. in five volumes. (London, R. Hindmarsh, 1794)
  • Astronomical and Geographical Essays Containing I. A full and comprehensive view, on a new plan, of the General Principles of Astronomy; II. The use of the Celestial and Terrestrial Globes, Exemplified in a greater Variety of Problems, than are to be found in any other Work; III. The description and use of ths most improved Planetarium, Tellurian, and Lunarium; IV. An Introduction to Practical Astronomy Third Edition. (London: R. Hindmarsh, 1795)
  • Essays on the Microscope. Second edition with additions by Frederick Kanmacher. (London: Dillon and Keating, for W. and S. Jones 1798)
  • An Essay On Electricity, Explaining the Principles of That Useful Science; and Describing the Instruments, Contrived Either to Illustrate the Theory, or Render the Practice Entertaining. Illustrated with Six Plates. To Which is Added, A Letter to the Author, from Mr. John Birch, Surgeon, on the Subject of Medical Electricity. Fifth Edition. (London: Printed by J. Dillon, and Co. For, and Sold By, W. and S. Jones, Opticians, Holborn., 1799)
  • Astronomical and Geographical Essays. First American edition. (Philadelphia: Whitehall. Printed for William Young, Bookseller, 1800)

External links[edit]

References[edit]

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