Random Thunks

Random thoughts from Mandy Tonks

Gustave Trouve

For last week's #FolkloreThursday [Thursday 12th September 2019] I tweeted about mining in honour of my Great-Grandfather, which got me thinking about mining/safety tech, which got me thinking about Gustave Trouve.

So, on with the geek-fest...

Gustave Pierre Trouve (2nd Jan 1839 - 27th Jul 1902) was a French engineer and inventor who learned maths, physics and chemistry for fun and created wearable tech for the lols.

A portrait of Trouve working on one of his inventions.

He also invented a long list of domestic, safety and medical tech that is now commonplace...

If you had/ve family down the pit, you can thank Trouve for electric miners' lamps, though his head-worn version was originally invented for an ENT doc. He adapted the design to a handheld inspection light too.

A drawing of miners, one carrying an electric lamp and the other wearing one at his forehead.

Worse still, Trouve invented the original versions of pretty much every torture device now know to medical science: if a doctor has put it in you, up you or down you, Trouve thought of it first and made at least a prototype.

A drawing of a large cabinet containing electrical equipment for medical purposes.

At his death he was working on an ultraviolet light treatment for skin conditions.

FYI: He died of septicaemia from a cut while working on the device, which is both ironic and a lesson to all makers to have a good med kit handy.

A drawing of a small medical kit in a pouch.

Trouve also created military tech like a portable telegraph system and an early metal detector for finding stray shells.

For the individual there were rifle-mounted lights for night time hunting, electric lances for stunning prey and a toy spring-loaded harpoon gun.

A drawing of two soldiers using Trouve's portable telegraph system.

He improved all sorts of inventions: Bell's telephone, Siemens motors and various battery tech. He was no slouch at inventing his own batteries either.

There was the first electric bike and outboard motor; prototype engine for submarines; ornithopter and model helicopter.

A drawing of a man riding Trouve's electric bicycle through the street.

But that's not the half of it...

In his downtime[*], Trouve created his "electro-mobile jewellery" and stage/costume lighting systems that any theatre would be proud of, most using his own miniaturised battery technology. Button batteries? Pah!

[*] How did he have any?

A drawing of two actors wearing stage costumes with headdresses and spears lit by Trouve's work.

Pour Monsieur: canes and pocketwatches that light your way; canes with windmill or rabbit atop; or perhaps a skull tie pin now worth $8000? (Sold at Bonhams in 2016.)

A drawing of various examples of Trouve's electrically lit tie pins, canes and other items.

Au bureau: electric slide projector for your desk.

Keen balloonist? You'll need the oxygen spacesuit.

Pour Madame: hairpins, tiaras and more illuminated with crystals in different colours and decorated with birds and butterflies.

A drawing of various examples of Trouve's electrically lit hair pins. A drawing of various examples of Trouve's electrically lit tiaras and other jewellery.

Les Enfants: an electric skipping rope.

Dans le maison: illuminated flower arrangements and multicoloured fountains for the showier sort.

Budding impresario?

How about lightsaber effects in a sword fight? Literally flashing blades!

A drawing of two stage actors mid sword fight with the blades lighting up on contact.

Fifty Amazons with lit spears, shields and headdress?

A drawing of ballet corp member wearing Amazonian garb with electrically lit spear and headdress.

Or a shining chariot straight from Neptune's realm?

A drawing of Neptune's chariot drawn by nymphs holding spears with lit tips.

And, of course, electric chandeliers decorated with dancers.

A drawing of an electrically lit chandelier decorated with dancers in various poses.

So there you have it: Gustave Trouve inventor and/or improver of everything we think we invented and/or improved 100+ years later. A portrait of Trouve working on one of his inventions.

Last thing: Trouve's brand name was Eureka. Which translates to French as J'ai Trouve.

Image Credits & Additional Info
Originally posted to Twitter on Monday 16th September 2019.
The images used are from the British Library's Flickr account and UVIC Maker Lab's GitHub account.