A rare portable copying machine by James Watt & Co. English, circa 1800
Lot 4413
A rare portable copying machine by James Watt & Co., English
Sold for US$ 3,750 inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A rare portable copying machine by James Watt & Co., English
circa 1800
The diametric-linear cut brass rollers on shaped fixed supports, T-bar removable crank for upper roller drive, felt-covered board with lift-up panel for damp letter insertion, with lined metamorphic writing slope, rare black Wedgwood inkwell, plain glass inkwell, and taller glass bottle in black- and gilt-painted metal sleeve, several sheafs of copying paper and one of blotting paper, lower pull-out drawer with "J. Watt & Co. Patent" disc, and metal-case brush, paper label of retailer Thomas Lund of London pasted inside, polished mahogany case with campaign brass corners and shaped handles.
15 x 11½ x 5 in. (38 x 29.5 x 13 cm.) when closed.

Footnotes

  • James Watt (1736-1819) is certainly most famous for devising and improving the cylinder piston steam engine, however smaller projects such as the copying machine, measuring distances accurately using telescopes, and the statue copier took up his time towards the end of the 18th Century.
    This copying machine design was the result of Watt tirelessly copying by hand key correspondence between himself and that of his business partner, Matthew Boulton. The company of Boulton & Watt was historically responsible for the design and installation of the larger fixed steam engines in mills, mines and factories.
    After many attempts in the late 1770s, Watt worked with a damp tissue idea for ink-bleed to run from the original surface to another. The copier was tremendously successful in Britain and the United States, with early adopters including Franklin, Washington, Madison and Jefferson.

    Provenance:
    Louis-Philippe de Luze, probably the founder of the cognac house De Luze, who came to New York in 1817 with his brother Alfred to set up an import operation (brass latch at the front engraved with "L[oui]s Ph[ilippe] de Luze").
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