Birk Petersen built this small Wimshurst influence machine. The Wimshurst influence machine is an electrostatic generator that was developed between 1880-1883 by British inventor James Wimshurst. It has a distinctive appearance with two large contra-rotating discs mounted in a vertical plane. It also has two crossed bars with metallic brushes, and a spark gap formed by two metal spheres. Versions of this machine often appeared in early science fiction movies, typically in the lab of some mad scientist, and often generating impressive sparks.

Mr. Petersen created a vast array of projects over his lifetime, ranging from miniature engines to hand-cranked animations and more. He built functional miniatures like a 1/3 scale Gatling gun or a 1/4 scale Case steam tractor, but he also built mechanical creations for the fun and enjoyment of his family. When Birk passed away in 2015, his family graciously donated over 150 items from his collection for display at the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum, where they are currently on display. We thank the Petersen family for sharing his extensive collection, which demonstrates the broad interests and many talents of Birk Petersen.

Exhibit added: May 7, 2016 - Last modified: January 19, 2024

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship