In 1981, the sole book about historic geomagnetic instruments was by Anita McConnell. Using it as a timeline, the Royal Scottish Museum’s temporary exhibition ‘The Earth is a Magnet’, was put on to co-incide with an international congress held in Edinburgh that year. The experience emphasised curatorial awareness that this important story could be told only with borrowing material from a number of other collections, and that in some cases, crucial items no longer existed. Locating and borrowing such objects before the internet proved tricky and time-consuming, but helped to form thinking about how the collections might grow. The paper will look at what there is, and something of what there is not, in the Scottish national collections.
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