Inventing the 19th Century

100 Inventions that Shaped the Victorian Age, From Aspirin to the Zeppelin

224 pages

100 illustrations

November, 2006

ISBN: 9780814788110



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The author of Inventing the 20th Century: 100 Inventions that Shaped the World and American Inventions: A History of Curious, Extraordinary, and Just Plain Useful Patents (both available through NYU Press), Stephen Van Dulken is an expert curator in the Patents Information Service of The British Library.

All books by Stephen van Dulken

Dishwashers, electric light bulbs, gramophones, motion picture cameras, radios, roller skates, typewriters. While these inventions seem to speak of the 20th century, they all in fact date from the 19th century.

The Victorian age (1837-1901) was a period of enormous technological progress in communications, transport, and many other areas of life. Illustrated by the original patent drawings from The British Library's extensive collection, this attractive book chronicles the history of the one hundred most important, innovative, and memorable inventions of the 19th century. The vivid picture of the Victorian age unfolds as inventions from the ground-breaking—such as aspirin, dynamite, and the telephone—to the everyday—like blue jeans and tiddlywinks—are revealed decade by decade. Together they provide a vivid picture of Victorian life.

This follow-up volume to Stephen van Dulken’s acclaimed Inventing the 20th Century will be compelling reading to anyone interested in inventors and the “age of machines.” From the cash register to the safety pin, from the machine gun to the pocket protector, and from lawn tennis to the light bulb, Inventing the 19th Century is a fascinating, illustrative window into the Victorian Age.


  • “Highly entertaining‚Ķ. In addition to being able to tell a good story, Van Dulken . . . easily assembles complex ideas from chemistry and engineering and make them palatable for the lay person. Van Dulken has assembled a panoramic snapshot of the century. By giving us a picture of our past, Van Dulken also presents our future.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A fascinating compendium for trivia seekers.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Remarkable . . . get the book for yourself. It'll hold you for many hours.”

    The Wall Street Journal

  • “This book should help advance the use of patent literature for historical research.”


  • “This publication is an interesting work that could be useful for reference purposes as well as pleasant for browsing.”

    ARBA online