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Document number: 7498
Date: Tue 17 Nov 1857
Recipient: FORBES James David
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Univ of St Andrews Special Collections Scotland
Collection number: MS Dep 7 1857/96
Last updated: 18th February 2012

Profr Forbes

Tuesday 17 Nov 57

Dr Sir

I still remain here, <1> and for a week or 10 days longer, being detained by business. When I come, I will bring with me Ruhmkorf’s coil, <2> but I am sorry to say I am nearly unacquainted with its use, having only seen it in action upon one occasion when I called on the inventor at Paris, and never having experimented with it myself. Therefore all I can do is to place the instrument in your hands and I daresay no great difficulty will be experienced in getting it into action – I admire the subject of voltaic electricity exceedingly and should be very glad if we could get up a few experiments – none are more popular, or more readily appreciated by the spectators – With kind remembrances to Yourself and Mrs Forbes <3>

believe me Yours very truly
H. F. Talbot


1. See Doc. No: 07485, in which WHFT had expected to be in Edinburgh by about 20 November 1857.

2. An induction coil – a current-carrying wire designed to produce magnetic fluctuations which in turn create electrical resistance – devised by Heinrich Daniel Rühmkorff (1803–1877), who was born in Hanover but spent most of his life in Paris. His high-voltage induction coil of 1852 could produce sparks more than 30 cm in length. He subsequently designed a double-wound induction coil, from which evolved the alternating-current transformer of later electricity experiments. He worked with many English scientists including Joseph Bramah. For Forbes’s request that WHFT bring the coil, which he had offered previously, see Doc. No: 07494.

3. Forbes had married Alicia, née Wauchope, in 1843.

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