DAVY, SIR HUMPHRY

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DAVY, SIR HUMPHRY - Sir Humphry Davy's Historic Letter Announcing His Invention of the Coal Miner's Safety Lamp
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DAVY, SIR HUMPHRY - Sir Humphry Davy's Historic Letter Announcing His Invention of the Coal Miner's Safety Lamp

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“I have never received so much pleasure from the result of any of my chemical labours”

 

DAVY, SIR HUMPHRY. (1778-1829). English chemist known for discovering the effects of nitrous oxide and for developing the Davy safety lamp; the prestigious Davy Medal is named in his honor. ALS. (“H. Davy”). 3pp. 4to. The Royal Institution (London), October 30, 1815. To English clergyman ROBERT GRAY (1762–1834), chairman of the Coal Mines Safety Committee.

 

“As it was in consequence of your invitation that I endeavored to investigate the nature of the fire damp I owe to you the first notice of the progress of my experiments. My results have been successful far beyond my expectations. I shall inclose a little sketch of my views on the subject & I hope in a few days to be able to send a paper with the apparatus for the Committee. I trust the safe lamp will answer all the object of the collier. I consider this at present as a private communication. I wish you to examine the lamps I have had constructed before you give any account of my labours to the committee. I have never received so much pleasure from the result of any of my chemical labours, for I trust the cau[se of] humanity will gain something by it. I beg of you to present my best respects to Mrs. Gray & to remember me to your son…”

 

In August 1815, shortly after his return from the continent, Davy was approached by Dr. Gray with the request that the well-known scientist apply his imagination and energy to the construction of a lamp that would prevent the death of coal miners from the ignition of ‘gases’ (coal dust) by their lights. The DNB reports, “On 31st [sic] October 1815 Davy communicated to Dr.  Gray that he had discovered a safe lamp…” It is this historic letter that is presently offered.

 

The Encyclopedia Britannica concludes its article on Davy with: “Though his ambition sometimes betrayed him into petty jealousy, it did not leave him insensible to the claims on his knowledge of the cause of humanity, to use a phrase often employed by him in connection with his invention of the miner's lamp.” The Davy Medal was later funded by the income derived from melting down a silver dinner service given him by the grateful coal miners of Newcastle, and an appreciative nation awarded him a baronetcy for his invention.

 

Gray, a clergyman in North East England, was an activist for local colliers. He later served as the bishop of Bristol.

 

Folded and creased. Integral address leaf is intact and bears a red wax seal. Slight paper loss from the wax seal affects two words. A small closed tear near but not affecting the signature. An historic letter in fine condition.

 

 

Item #20394


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