Historic reconstructions have become a decisive tool in many areas of science and technology studies over the past few decades. In this article I present some highly significant scientific apparatus designed during the 19th century. I show how, by rebuilding these artefacts and practising with them, significant historical insights can be gained. My work demonstrates how historic experimenters interacted with new designs and how different practitioners using new types of instruments and machinery could reach scientific agreement. I discuss the reconstruction projects as well as explore how doing them has provided me with a new or deeper understanding of the skills, practices and tacit knowledge involved in the making of 19th century science and technology. I analyse competing traditions in the manufacture and use of historic artefacts and reflect on the changing social roles of inventors and practitioners.
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