Pearson's Magazine, April 1902

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"The Harmonograph" by Archibald Williams

Archibald Williams was a prolific British author of “how-to” books and articles and I have found two of his earliest writings in a Pearson’s Magazine from 1902.  “The Harmonograph” article appeared in the April edition and the “Bubbles” article is from a month or two earlier. I also have his very informative and lengthy chapter on the harmonograph which appeared in his superb “Things to Make” (1917) series of books. 

This fascinating book is still available on eBay and elsewhere for under $30.00 (usually).  Tony Woolrich wrote a wonderful biography about Archibald Williams; some of which I have cut-and-paste below (with permission).  Read the full version on Steve Holland’s Blog at Bear Alley:   


“Archibald Williams was born 14 July 1871, the son of the Revd Daniel Rowland Williams of Bowers Gifford, Suffolk. He was a BA of Oxford, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He was married to Florence. The 1901 census records him as living at Bowers Gifford, single, and a school tutor. Williams died on his birthday, 14 July 1934. It is not known if he was survived by any family.

Williams was an occasional contributor to Pearson’s Magazine, The Strand Magazine and boys magazines. Two of his books were published in Hungarian. Many of his books were reprinted: the earliest dates are noted here.

The brief notes about his life do not do justice to the quality of his work for he was a highly competent technical journalist specializing in books for boys. The ‘Romance of …’ series he published from 1903 with C Arthur Pearson introduced youngsters to the very latest engineering and technical developments. How It Works (1906), How It Is Made (1907) and The Wonders Of Mechanical Ingenuity (1910) dealt with the practicalities of mechanism and manufacture.

His books usually had one or two coloured plates as well as monochrome photographs and line drawings in the text. His earlier books often had attractive illustrated cloth covers. A number of his books can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive. Secondhand copies are quite common from ABE, eBay and charity shops as well as regular book sellers.

Williams has escaped the attention of biographers and he does not appear in modern academic studies of children’s books. It is certain that more of his journalism awaits discovery.”


Click on pictures to view full size:

The pendulum apparatus in the drawing is a Twin-elliptic pendulum harmonograph.  They can create beautiful designs, but it's a bit tricky to get the motions of the two pendulums harmonically tuned. 

Below is another Pearson's article by Archibald Williams entitled "Bubbles"; I just thought it was very interesting.