Vacuum Pump and Bell Jar


Vacuum Pump and Bell Jar


This vacuum pump (hand operated by a handle now missing) was made by Jas. W. Queen & Co. and purchased in 1885 for $25.


In 1654, Otto von Guericke was credited for inventing the first Vacuum pump. It was not until 1660 that Robert Boyle published his New Experiments in which he describes his theory of air pressure (Brush, 13). His theory would then become known as Boyle’s Law in which the volume and absolute pressure of a contained gas are inversely proportional. Until the 17th century, air was an invisible substance that could not be studied or explained. With the invention of the Vacuum pump, the principles of air could not only be studied, but they could be demonstrated in such a way that was ultimately undeniable (Brundtland, 265). This type of demonstration not only depicted scientific discovery, but also commanded a certain amount of excitement. Well into the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, experiments continued in the realms of sound, electricity, and mechanics (Brundtland, 267).
Grinnell College bought a vacuum pump in 1885 for 25$ from a fairly well known manufacturer of scientific instruments known as Queen & co. This pump is a single barrel pump with a standard sealable bell jar. Air can be evacuated from the jar by pumping the handle (now missing) up and down.

-Jordan Hamilton 2019


Brundtland, T. "Francis Hauksbee and His Air Pump." Notes and Records of the Royal Society 66.3 (2012): 253-72. JSTOR. Web.

Brush, Stephen G. "Gadflies And Geniuses In The History Of Gas Theory." History of Modern Physical Sciences The Kinetic Theory of Gases (2003): 421-50. JSTOR. Web.






James W. Queen & Co.


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