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This is an initial press release dating back to November 2015.  Please note that the eBook referred to herein is no longer available for purchase separately.  The good news, however, is that it is included free of charge as part of our subscription offer! 

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The Davy Lamp – Initial Press Release: The Royal Institution of Great Britain

19th century engineering meets 21st century digital technology

The Royal Institution launches first ever e-book of original Davy Lamp manuscripts

As we approach the bicentenary at the end of 2015 of Sir Humphry Davy’s invention of the Miners’ Safety Lamp, the Royal Institution in partnership with ArchAlive Ltd are pleased to announce the first ever electronic publication of the famous manuscript  tracing how Davy invented the lamp. Now available to the public as an e-book*.

The publication of the e-book THE DAVY LAMP – Inventing the Miners’ Safety Lamp means that for the first time anyone in the world can download and read Davy’s original manuscripts, as collected by Michael Faraday, containing his scientific notes, workings and diagrams. The manuscripts are accompanied by a full transcription and expert commentary from the e-book’s editor Frank James, Professor of the History of Science at the Royal Institution.

The manuscript includes drafts of the paper on the lamp written by Davy, copied by Faraday and then amended by Davy, between October and December 1815. These texts track how Davy developed his ideas on safety lamps, culminating in his invention of the gauze lamp in mid-December. One of the striking features of this e-book is that it is very easy and intuitive to switch between the different versions of the text to see how Davy changed his mind in a comparatively short period of time.

Frank James, Professor of the History of Science at the Royal Institution, said: “As we move towards the bicentenary of this crucial invention in the process of industrialisation, it is essential that we understand its scientific and practical origins. Making this manuscript easily accessible to students, researchers and the general public does just that.”

Michael Harrison, Publishing Director at ArchAlive who published the e-book, said: “I think it is absolutely relevant that the development of a highly innovative piece of technology in the early nineteenth century should be made accessible by the use of cutting-edge electronic publishing technology of the early twenty first.”

The eBook It is available to purchase at* in Windows Apple IOS, (IPAD & IPHONE), Kindle Fire and all Android compliant platforms.


* To celebrate the bicentenary of the implementation of The Davy Lamp The Royal Institution - in partnership with the publisher ArchAlive Ltd - is publishing a limited edition and unique hard backed version of these manuscripts and transcripts available for purchase BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY: 

Davy Lamp Subscription Package


History of the Davy Lamp

Following a number of serious explosions in North East coal mines due to pockets of flammable gas known as ‘firedamp’, Humphry Davy was asked by the Rector of Bishopwearmouth (near Newcastle) to find a means of lighting coal mines safely. In an intense period of work from mid-October to December 1815, Davy evolved prototype lamps ending with the iconic lamp shown here in which he enclosed the flame in wire gauze. The lamp was successfully tested in Hebburn colliery in January 1816 and quickly went into production. The effect of the introduction of the lamp immediately reduced the absolute number of fatalities, increased the amount of coal production (because it permitted deeper coal mining) and decreased enormously the number of fatalities per million tons of coal produced. The lamp thus made a fundamental contribution to the continuing industrialisation of Britain, and indeed elsewhere, during the nineteenth century.

About the Royal Institution

The Royal Institution was established in 1799 with the purpose of ‘diffusing science for the common purposes of life’. Over 200 years on, we’re a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science through our public programmes for adults and education initiatives young people, science video channel, Faraday Museum and history of science activities, scientific research and the famous Christmas Lectures.

More information at:

About ArchAlive

ArchAlive is a sister company of OV GEM Limited –

ArchAlive are specialist publishers who work in close conjunction with Institutions, Archives and Collections to enable manuscripts and other prime archival works to be reached and appreciated by a wider public for the first time; up to now such works have only been viewed by a privileged group of researchers and worthy academics.

These innovative editions provide an opportunity to examine the works in great depth and clarity. These titles are accompanied by both transcripts of the original and further enhanced where appropriate by the latest academic commentary highlighting the context of the work at the time and the importance of the work.

About OV GEM Limited

OV GEM Ltd is dedicated to using modern digital media to ‘bring to life’ and allow ease of access to Galleries, Exhibitions, Museums and Manuscripts.

Hitherto only actual visits to the institutions and/or having an academic or scholarly provenance may have guaranteed access/sight of exhibits, rare and seminal historic papers, and data, media and imagery; and even these through their fragility, rarity or the lack of physical space are not always actually available to view – even within the confines of an Institution’s exhibitions and/or archives.

More information at: