We acquired this fascinating piece of Connecticut-iana at the recent antiquarian book fair in New York City.  It is a 36-page scientific workbook by Robert Pierpont Cunningham (1782-1867), a mechanic and inventor from Pomfret, CT.  He was the son of Peter Cunningham, a retired sea captain, and Elizabeth Pierpont Cunningham, daughter of a wealthy Boston family.

The manuscript begins with notes on experimental theorems, chemistry, varnish, life boat design, mechanics, laws of motion, and optics, among others. Drawings and remarks on steam engines and calculations related to how ships see each other over the horizon are shown here.  Cunningham cites his sources (Isaac Newton and Erasmus Darwin are among them) and conducts his own experiments.  He seems to have been an active inventor, having patented at least four inventions between 1808 – 1945: a cider press machine, steering helm machine, and two different looms.





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