Astronomical and navigational instruments, Herschel family, The Herschels as experimenters

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Astronomical and navigational instruments

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Object ID AST1030.57
Description A handwritten note concerning pitch. This manuscript come from a 14-drawer cabinet found in the Herschel family home in the 1950s. The contents of this and a similar cabinet seem to suggest that they were used by successive generations of the family to store specimens, material and apparatus for carrying out experiments. This note concludes with a suggestion for home improvements at the family home Collingwood in Kent (where the family moved in 1840 having grown too big for Observatory House in Slough) and is signed ASH for Alexander Stewart Herschel. The note reads: "Mem. Try cutting this with a knife, to see what curiously tough stuff it is. But... a vos doigts' if you meddle much with the pitch dust that scrapes off it easily! ... ... ... the 'desintegrating-house' is, by the bye ... ... very oddly like the smell of .. with which it can't I suppose yet have any real national connection. "Specimen of Val de Travers "Natural Bituminous Limestone; used for paving streets, footways, courtyards &c with plain, white, ornamental coloured pavement. "NB. Some of the mineral is also mixed with pitch from the Natural Bitumen Lake of Trinidad, to make it soften, by heating them together in a proper oven; and in this 'niastic' [?] state it is cast into wide thick square tiles for laying down upon footways and courtyard &c in teh same way that the natural stone is laid down upon carriage-roads, and to make it more ornamental than the black bricks alone pieces of broken up white quaity {?} or red brick &c are mixed in, or used to surface the cast slabs which make them look quite like natural hard-trodden gravel, although ... as firm and solid and tough as slabs of iron would be - It occurs to me that it might perhaps be the best kind of stuff in the terrace walks at Collingwood & ever ... to be newly laid down with fresh cement? (ASH)"
Date made

Artist/Maker Herschel, Alexander Stewart
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Herschel Collection
Materials paper
Measurements Sheet: 1 mm x 200 mm x 126 mm
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