’G. Adams in Fleet Street London’ is the signature on some of the finest scientific instruments of the eighteenth century. This book is the first comprehensive study of the instrument-making business run by the Adams family, from its foundation in 1734 to bankruptcy in 1817. It is based on detailed research in the archival sources as well as examination of extant instruments and publications by George Adams senior and his two sons, George junior and Dudley. Separate chapters are devoted to George senior’s family background, his royal connections, and his new globes; George junior’s numerous publications, and his dealings with van Marum; and to Dudley’s dabbling with ’medico-electrical therapeutics’. The book is richly illustrated with plates from the Adams’s own publications and with examples of instruments ranging from unique museum pieces - such as the ’Prince of Wales’ microscope - and globes to the more common, even mundane, items of the kind seen in salesrooms and dealers - the surveying, navigational and military instruments that formed the backbone of the business. The appendices include facsimiles of trade catalogues and an annotated short-title listing of the Adams family’s publications, which also covers American and Continental editions, as well as the posthumous ones by W. & S. Jones.
Table of Contents
Contents: Part I: George Adams senior: Family background; Foundation and development of the Fleet Street business; Royal connections; Adams’s globes; George Adams senior’s last few years, 1767-1772; Part II: George Adams junior: Continuation of the business; Essays and lectures; Instruments for van Marum; Hannah Adams and the succession; Part III: Dudley Adams: Globe maker and instrument maker; Bankrupt: the end of the Adams instrument business; Electrician and political reformer; Appendices: George Adams senior’s catalogue 1766; George Adams junior’s last catalogue, 1795; Aids to dating Adams instruments and publications; Short-title list of publications by the Adams family; Bibliography; General index.
'Millburn has delved profitably into a wide range of sources. Copious illustrations, many of the instruments passing through the Saleroom or in private hands, expand on those usually shown...a book well worth waiting for.' Albion 'In a meticulous piece of research sustained over many years, a remarkably coherent picture of the firm's history and the lives of the men behind it has been constructed by John Millburn.' Journal of the American Scientific Instrument Enterprise '... the impact of Millburn's work on historiography could go far beyond that of a well contextualized biography.... this book marks a turning point in the standards necessary to produce a serious historical work on instrument makers...his pleasant narrative, and the use of rich and good iconographical resources, make Millburn's book a model for the genre.' Medical History '(Millburn) describes the instruments from the Adams family and their chief competitors, and he uses those instruments as evidence. He does so thoroughly and with discrimination. In order to present this evidence, he has produced a splendidly-illustrated book...' Canadian Journal of History 'His book contains several appendixes, one of them especially useful for instrument historians as an aid to dating Adams instruments and publications... very detailed... an excellent source of information on eighteenth-century life... an excellent work... the definitive work on the Adams workshop.' Technology and Culture '... this book marks a turning point in the standards necessary to produce a serious historical work on instrument makers.... a model for the genre.' Medical History 46/3 'Millburn is already renowned among eighteenth-century historians of science... With this book, he has extended our knowledge in two directions, simultaneously enriching our awareness of the mid-century instrument trade, and providing a longitudinal study of how one family adapted to changing circumstances... The throughness of Millburn's research is stunning. He has drawn on an impressively wide range of sources... This history of the Adams family is an indispensable mine of information and reasearch aide for anyone interested in the eighteenth-century instrument trade.' Metascience '... a fascinating book. Its eighty pages of notes, critical apparatus, and bibliography provide a fund of primary archival data that will be of as much use to historians of London, of business practices, and even of advertising, as it will to historians of scientific instruments. The volume is superbly produced on glossy art paper, and its 126 high-definition plates of engravings and instrument photographs render visually explicit the items discussed in the text. Dr Millburn must be congratulated on his achievement, for his book opens up a fascinating dimension of eighteenth-century intellectual and commercial life.' Annals of Science