Museums Home BMAGiC Home Search Browse BMAGiC Help About BMAGiC Contact Us

19th Century Commemorative Medal - James Watt/Steam Engine

View main imageView larger image
Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

Additional Images

Click on each image below to view at full size:
View image 2 

Basic Information

Accession Number:1885N1536.16
Collection:Coins & Medals
Date:1819 c - 1819 c

Maker Information

Engraver:George Mills - View biography for George Mills
Mint:Soho Mint - View history


James Watt did not invent the steam engine. The first effective steam engines were already in use, pumping water out of mines, by the end of the eighteenth century. Watt's contribution was to make important changes to steam engine design, greatly increasing their efficiency and making them cheaper to run. He went on to develop engines which were capable of driving machinery in all kinds of industries.Watt began his steam engine experiments in Scotland in the 1760s. By 1769 he had patented 'A New Method of Lessening the Consumption of Steam and Fuel in Fire Engines'. To fund his work, Watt went into partnership with John Roebuck, who needed an engine to drain water out of his coal mines in Kinneil, Scotland. Watt built his first full-sized experimental engine there. In 1773, after Roebuck had become bankrupt and Watt had agreed to go into partnership with Matthew Boulton, the engine was dismantled and brought to Soho.At Soho, Watt continued his steam engine experiments, while Boulton set about finding customers. Their first order came from Bllomfield Colliery at nearby Tipton where an engine was soon erected in 1776 for pumping water from the coal mine. Further orders soon followed for a range of industrial sites.

Presented by The Misses Long, 1878.

Further Information

Reign:King George III
Production Period:Georgian
Place of Origin:Birmingham, Staffordshire - originally, England

Associated People


Diameter:44 mm