A Voltaic Pile (c. 1800)


This voltaic pile consists of thirty metal disks separated by layers of (dampened) cloth. During the first part of the nineteenth century large voltaic piles were constructed to provide sources of continuous current. Volta demonstrated the actions of piles such as the one shown to Napoleon who was reportedly quite impressed. Bonaparte, incidentally, was very partial to scientists; in 1813 he allowed free passage to Davy and Faraday to visit Ampère in Paris despite the hostilities between England and France.