History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

Narratives

Babbage Difference Engine provenance

The parts of the Babbage Difference engine held by the MHS came originally to the museum as a loan in the 1930s lent by L. H. Dudley Buxton (or his executors), grandson of the compiler of the collection, H. W. Buxton, a friend and collaborator of Babbage. It was a loan for many years, but the Buxton family presented the collection to the museum during the 1990s. Several other objects (e.g. Long's metabolic machine) have the same provenance.

This provenenace suggests that unlike other surviving examples of the Difference Engine parts, which were correctly and firmly assembled, and mounted on a board, by Babbage's son, our pieces went from Babbage senior to Buxton, and are therefore unmounted, unsecured, and possibly unrepresentative of the original assembly formation.

TF
6/1/2004

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