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Page's Reciprocating Armature Engine

One of the earliest electric motors, invented in 1838, by Charles Grafton Page, of Salem, Massachusetts. Although unsigned, the motor was likely made by Daniel Davis Jr., of Boston. The hardwood base measures 13” x 5 5/8”. Typical of Davis’s workmanship are the beautifully lathe turned brass uprights supporting the flywheel axle and the walking beam as well as the finials on the studs securing the wood table above the vertical U-magnets.

The following description is from Davis’s Manual of Magnetism.

Reciprocating Armature Engine - In this instrument, contrived by Dr. Page, two electro-magnets of the U form, represented at M M (fig 140), are firmly secured in a vertical position, the four poles appearing just above a small wooden table. The two armatures, A A, connected by a brass bar, move upon a horizontal axis in such a manner that while one is approaching the poles of the magnet over which it is placed, the other is receding from those of the magnet. The brass bar is connected with one extremity of a horizontal beam, the other end of which communicates motion by means of a crank to a flywheel. On the axis of the flywheel at B is the break-piece. Each magnet being charged in succession, the armatures are attracted alternately, communicating a rapid reciprocating motion to the beam, and consequently a rotary one to the flywheel.

The heavy 5 spoke flywheel is 3 3/4” in diameter. The horizontal beam is 6 1/2” long. All of the still functioning wiring is concealed under the wooden base. The “break-piece” consists simply of two strips of sheet brass soldered to the appropriate wire and positioned so that they will rub against the flywheel shaft, which is cut away on one side and raised on the opposite side to cause the strips to alternately come in contact with the shaft. These strips are burned from arcing in use and should be replaced for the motor to run continuously. However, when I press one or both of the strips lightly against the shaft, the motor runs continuously and quite rapidly. Two of the four small turned brass ball feet supporting the base are missing. Luckily, the heavy bolts securing the magnets protrude under the base the same height as the feet, so the motor rests securely and level as is. The brass has a dark patina and appears never to have suffered a “cleaning”.

The motor - side view

the turned pillar supporting the walking beam

the magnets and rocking armatures

the flywheel and break-piece

Charles Grafton Page

Price: sold.
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Contact: Richard Van Vleck - Email: richard@americanartifacts.com

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