King's College London
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Fruits of the earth: plants in the service of mankind

Early stress balls

Advertisement for an item known as a stress ballAdvertisement for an item known as a stress ballThe manifold fruits of the earth have provided diverse materials used in many important fields of life.

In an era of mass production they have also been utilised in a commercial market to provide adults and children with products to be used in recreational activities, for example, balls used in sport, toys and balloons.

The advertisement shown here is for an item colloquially known as a ‘stress ball’ – something that is squeezed in one’s hand to relieve tension.

This one-page advertisement was recently catalogued as part of the Foyle Special Collections Library’s participation in an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project Scrambled messages, involving the cataloguing of the former library of Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-75), professor of experimental philosophy at King’s.

Wheatstone’s library of 2,000 items contains many works of 19th century scientific thought on acoustics, optics, electricity and, significantly, the development of the telegraph, in which he played a major role.

More ephemeral material such as the item shown here, and works reflecting his own interests in subjects such as phrenology, philosophy, natural magic and parlour tricks, are also contained in the collection.

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