Winter Frictional Electrical Machine

Object Name: 
Winter Frictional Electrical Machine

Notice of Upcoming Content and Access Change

The Museum is working on the future of our online collections access. A new version will be available later in 2023. During this transition period, the current version of the Collections Browser may have reduced functionality and data may be not be updated. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. For any questions or concerns, please contact us.

What is AAT?

The Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) (r) is a structured vocabulary for generic concepts related to art and architecture. It was developed by The Getty Research Institute to help research institutions become consistent in the terminology they use.Learn More

Object Name: 
Winter Frictional Electrical Machine
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 125 cm
Not on Display
Web Description: 
Around 1745, the German scientist Johann Heinrich Winkler demonstrated the effects of static electricity by electrifying his assistant, who was then handed a glass of brandy. As soon as he lifted the glass to his mouth, sparks would fly from his tongue and set the brandy on fire. The popularity of such performances, and the unexpected effects related to electricity, triggered the invention of various electrical friction machines—for private and public use—throughout the 18th century. The core feature of almost all of these devices was a piece of revolving glass that rubbed against fixed pads, thereby creating an electrical charge. The Museum acquired an apparatus that makes use of an invention by the Austrian scientist Georg K. Winter designed to generate long and dense sparks. Dating to about 1850, the device is comprised of a large wooden ring, which originally had a thick wire running through its center. Together with additional devices, such as a Leyden jar (a condenser that was invented in 1745), it probably served as a teaching tool for high school and college students learning about physics.
Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG, Source
Primary Description: 
Glass, Cherry Wood, Brass. Static machine consisting of wood and glass framework, a glass disc, and a wooden hoop.
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 2007 (2008) illustrated, p. 2; BIB# AI90242
Recent Acquisitions (2008) illustrated, p. 11 (left); BIB# AI101005