An Original Mid-Nineteenth Century Scientific Instrument in Italy: Vincenzo Vignola’s Induction Coil


It is well known that the induction coil was invented in the mid-1830s, but its most significant improvements were made between the late 1830s and 1851. During these years a lot of research was aimed at improving the functionality and effectiveness of the device. In Italy one of the very first attempts at improvement was made first by an instrument maker from Milan, Carlo Dell’Acqua, and secondly, by a priest from Verona, Vincenzo Vignola. In 1851, Vignola was awarded the gold medal from the Academy of Agriculture, Arts and Commerce of Verona for having introduced important and useful changes to the Callan electromotor. This event opened up the discovery of a number of very interesting, unpublished hand-written documents, as well as the discovery of the device itself, provided with an almost unique self-acting commutator-interrupter system. Today this apparatus is preserved at the Physics Museum “Antonio Maria Traversi” in Venice.

Share and Cite:

Mantovani, R. (2015) An Original Mid-Nineteenth Century Scientific Instrument in Italy: Vincenzo Vignola’s Induction Coil. Advances in Historical Studies, 4, 85-96. doi: 10.4236/ahs.2015.42009.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Callan, N. (1836). A Description of an Electro-Magnetic Repeater, or of a Machine by Which the Connexion between the Voltaic Battery and the Helix of an Electro-Magnet May Be Broken and Renewed Several Thousand Times in the Space of one Minute. The Annals of Electricity, Magnetism, and Chemistry, 1, 229-230.
[2] Camuzzoni, G. (1857). Storia dell’Accademia d’Agricoltura Arti e Commercio in Verona relativa al Triennio 1851-52-53 letta dal socio Presidente Dr. Giulio Camuzzoni chiudendosi la Provinciale Esposizione il giorno 15 gennaio 1857. In Memorie dell’Accademia d’Agricoltura Commercio ed Arti di Verona (Vol. XXXIV). Verona: Stabilimento tipograficoVicentini e Franchini.
[3] D’Agostino, S. (1986). Leopoldo Nobili e la Fisica degli Osservabili. In G. Tarozzi (Ed.), Leopoldo Nobili e la Cultura Scientifica del Suo Tempo (pp. 97-103). Bologna: Nuova Alfa Editoriale.
[4] D’Agostino, S. (2005). Gli Strumenti Scientifici e la Scienza. Manduria: Barbieri Editore.
[5] Faraday, M. (1833). Experimental Researches in Electricity (Third Series, § 7). Identity of Electricities Derived from Different Sources. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 123, 23-54.
[6] Fleming, J. A. (1892). Chapter 1: The Historical Development of the Induction Coil and Transformer. In The Alternate Current Transformer in Theory and Practice (Vol. II, pp. 1-118). London: The Electrician Printing and Publishing Company Limited.
[7] Greenslade Jr., T. B. (2013). Charles Grafton Page and His Shocking Coil. eRittenhouse, 24, No. 1, Issue 71.
[8] Gurisatti, P. (1916). Brevi Cenni Biografici dei Padri Pietro Vignola, Vincenzo Vignola e Giuseppe Marchesini della Congregazione dei Preti delle Stimate di N.S.G.C. Verona: Tipografia Antonio Gurisatti.
[9] Hackmann, W. D. (1989). The Induction Coil in Medicine and Physics, 1835-1877. In C. Blondel, F. Parot, A. Turner, & M. Williams (Eds.), Studies in the History of Scientific Instruments (pp. 235-250). London: Rogers Turner Books LTD.
[10] Hackmann, W. D. (1998). Induction Coil. In R. Bud, & D. J. Warner (Eds.), Instruments of Science: An Historical Encyclopedia (pp. 328-330). London: Science Museum & Garland Publishing, Inc., Washington: The National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
[11] Majocchi, G. (1850-1853). Elementi di Fisica ad uso dei Collegi Nazionali e dei Liceipel Corso Filosofico di Gianales- sandro Majocchi (Two volumes). Torino: Cugini Pomba e Comp. Editori.
[12] Page, C. G. (1867). History of Induction: The American Claim to the Induction Coil and Its Electrostatic Developments. Washington: Intelligencer Printing House.
[13] Payen, J. (1965). Les Origines de la Bobine d’Induction. Revue d’histoire des sciences et de leurs applications, 18, 315-318.
[14] Pederzolli, G. (1856). Apparato d’induzione elettro-magneto-elettrica di Callan modificato dall’abate Vincenzo Vignola da Verona (pp. 3-26). Trento (Publisher Missing).
[15] Post, R. C. (1976). Physics, Patents, and Politics: Biography of Charles Grafton Page. New York: Science History Publications.
[16] Rowbottom, M., & Susskind, C. (1984). Electricity and Medicine. History of Their Interaction. San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Press, Inc.
[17] Shiers, G. (1971). The Induction Coil. Scientific American, 224, 80-87.
[18] Vignola, P. (manuscript, undated). Sopra Alcune Modificazioni e Miglioramenti introdotti nell’Elettromotore per Induzione di Callan. Fund Manuscripts of the Accademia di Agricoltura, Scienze e Lettere of Verona, B.I.16, folios 1-24.
[19] Zambra, B. (1852). Primo Programma dell’I.R. Ginnasio liceale di Venezia. Pubblicato alla fine dell’Anno Scolastico 1851-52.
[20] Zantedeschi, F. (1844-1845). Trattato del Magnetismo e della Elettricità dell’Ab. Zantedeschi (Parte I & II). Venezia: dalla Tipografia Armena di S. Lazzaro.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.