May 08, 2012

Tea-making machines, part 1

A still from the tea-making case in The Secret Life of Home exhibit at the Science Museum London.

The device in the lower-right hand corner of the above photograph is an automatic tea-making machine, "comprising wooden base which holds the alarm clock, kettle tilter and methylated spirit stove, with flat oval-shaped copper kettle, patented by Frank Clarke of Birmingham, in 1902 (pat.15,170), made by the Automatic Water Boiler Co., Birmingham, 1902-1910." More on the device:
The original design of this machine was built by Albert E Richardson, a clockmaker from Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. The patentee of the machine and maker of this example, Frank Clarke, a Birmingham gunsmith, purchased the original machine and all rights to it from Richardson for an undisclosed sum. It was heated by methylated spirits which would be lit by the automatic striking of a match. This action was initiated by the sounding of the alarm clock, which rang again when the tea was ready. A wooden base holds the alarm clock, kettle tilter and methylated spirit stove. Although ingenious, the heavy reliance on the match being lit at the correct time made the machine potentially dangerous. Made by the Automatic Water Boiler Co.

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