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Keely Motor Company  ( Perpetual Motion Machine Fraud ) - 1897  

Keely Motor Company ( Perpetual Motion Machine Fraud ) - 1897

Product #: KeelyMotor

Normal Price: $495.00
Our Sales Price: $395.00

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Beautifully engraved SCARCE certificate from the Keely Motor Company issued in 1897. This historic document was printed by the National Banknote Company and has an ornate border around it with a vignette a woman next to the steam motor and a vignette of John Ernst Worrell Keely. This item has the hand signatures of the Company’s President and Secretary ( Charles Schullermann ). Minor staining on front and back is a name you can TRUST!
Certificate Vignette is a name you can TRUST!
Certificate Vignette

John Ernst Worrell Keely was born 3 Sep 1827 and died Died 18 Nov 1898. He was considered a fraudulent American inventor. In 1873 he announced that he had discovered a new physical force that, if harnessed, would produce unheard-of power. He claimed, for example, to be able to produce from a quart of water enough fuel to move a 30-car train from Philadelphia to New York City. He began construction of an engine to perform this feat and by 1874 was able to give preliminary demonstrations of his machine. He made a great show of guarding the secret of the motor he was developing to obtain power "from intermolecular vibrations of ether," and scientists and engineers scoffed at his unverified claims. is a name you can TRUST!
John Worrell Keely photographed in his laboratory in 1889

Keely came up with what he claimed was a hydro-pneumatic pulsating vacuo engine, which the press labelled as a perpetual motion machine. According to Keely, harmonics were involved, which he read about in F.J. Hughes Harmonies of Tones and Colours. However, as he could never explain exactly how the machine worked, the Public eventually turn against him and he was denounced as a fake and a fraud. is a name you can TRUST!
Keely and the board of directors of the Keely Motor Company

After Keely died on Nov. 18, 1898, suspicious skeptics and newspaper reporters did a careful examination of his laboratory. Some of Keely's machinery had already been removed by "believers" who hoped they could make it work. The inexhaustible source of power he claimed to have discovered, "The Etheric Force" or "Molecular Motion of Energy", was, it turned out, nothing but compressed air. The "Hydro-Pneumo-Pulsating-Vacuo-Motor", and other mysterious engines such as the "Compound Disintegrator" and the "Sympathetic Negative Attractor", had all been powered by a large cast iron hollow sphere carefully hidden in the cellar floor beneath Keely's workrooms. False ceilings and floors were ripped up to reveal mechanical belts and linkages to a silent water motor in the basement (two floors below the laboratory). A system of pneumatic switches under the floor boards could be used to turn machinery on and off. A three-ton sphere was found in the basement, apparently a reservoir for compressed air. The walls, ceilings and even apparently solid beams were found to have hidden pipework.

The following article about John Keely appeared in a book

called `FOIBLES AND FALLACIES OF SCIENCE' written in 1924.


After the search for perpetual motion was abandoned by true

scientists, and the fallacy became too generally recognized to make it

a means of coaxing money from the credulous investor, the idea took

the no less insidious character of a machine which required a constant

moderate supply of power from an outside source, but would return this

many times over.

This result was to be accomplished by means of special mechanical

actions or reactions which were declared to be either wholly new

discoveries, or else actions that were not commonly understood.

Practically unlimited supplies of power could be produced at little


These special actions were, of course, the inventor's secret, but

among them `vibration' was one of most potent, and twin brother to

this was `radiation.' A celebrated instance of this phase of

perpetual motion vagary was the Keely Motor. This while not claiming

to be a perpetual motion machine, did purport to furnish motive power

with a minimum expenditure of energy upon it.

It comes therefore in the class that legitimately succeeded the

efforts to secure perpetual motion; but instead of being a sincere

attempt to advance mechanical science by a genuine discovery of a new

principle or some new application of old principles it was a fraud,

although masquerading for a long time under the garb of honesty. It

possessed so many of the characteristics of this kind of foible as to

justify a somewhat extended account of it.

The inventor John Worrell Keely was a carpenter, who was born in

Philadelphia in 1837 and died there in 1898. He was a good mechanic

and a very clever talker, but not a highly educated man.

With a claim to have discovered a new force in mechanics which

was to work wonders, he succeeded in inducing a dozen engineers and

capitalists to organize a Keely Motor Company in New York in 1872, and

to subscribe ten thousand dollars to begin the construction of the

motor. He immediately applied his money to the purchase of material

and the construction of machinery, and began to attract the attention

of the public in 1874 when he gave a demonstration of the motor before

a small company of prominent citizens of Philadelphia, November 10th

of that year.

Among the expedients resorted to in exploiting a scientific

fraud, mystifying lingo is one of the commonest, and in this Mr. Keely

was an adept. At this demonstration the machine, or so much of it as

was then to be exhibited, was called a "vibratory-generator"; in a

later demonstration it was a "hydro-pneumatic-pulsating-vacu-engine"

and changes in nomenclature were being rung continually always vague,

delightfully general, and suggesting unlimited possibilities.

The inventor's funds began to run low, but his plausibility

sufficed to keep him afloat and he so completely deluded his

supporters, especially his most ardent one, Mrs. Bloomfield Moore,

that he continued to hold their interest, and was kept on his feet

financially. By 1890, however, the stockholders had become too weary

(or wary) to be put off by evasions or tricks.

Mr. Keely declared he was now on the eve of success; he had

arrived at that crucial stage, lacking just the one slight adjustment

which, in all such cases, proves the insurmountable bar to final

achievement. His "generator" had now become a "liberator" which would

disintegrate air and release an etheric force of cyclonic strength.

One spectator at a demonstration said that a pint of water poured

into a cylinder seemed to work great wonders. " The gauge showed a

pressure of more than fifty thousand pounds to the square inch.

Great ropes were torn apart, iron bars broken in two or twisted

out of shape, bullets discharged through twelve inch planks, by a

force which could not be determined.

In the glory of his exuberance Keely now declared that with one

quart of water, he would be able to send a train of cars from

Philadelphia to San Francisco, and that to propel a steamship from New

York to Liverpool and return would require just about one gallon of

the same." (Julius Moritzen, in the The Cosmopolitan for April 1899.)

His technical terms were bewildering, intentionally so ;

`molecular vibration, ' `sympathetic equilibrium,' `oscillation of the

atom, ' `etheric disintegration,' `quadruple negative harmonics,'

`atomic triplets,' came glibly from his lips to confuse or to enthrall

his auditors.

At that time one of the greatest steamships in operation the

Teutonic of the White Star line, crossed the Atlantic in six days,

driven by engines of 17000 H.P., expending about 2,500,000 H.P.- hours

of energy. That is just about the amount of energy now estimated to be

liberated if the hydrogen in a half-pint of water were converted into

helium. Keely was far within bounds!

Public interest in the Keely Motor dates from 1874. From the

first, with the use of no agents but air, water, and the machine, its

inventor made pretensions and promises that were more extravagant than

those of any visionary or faker that preceded him.

The claim to produce magical results by means of a thimbleful of

water with appropriate juggling was not new, but, as Mr. Benjamin

wrote in 1886, "a power-creating machine of no known form or mode of

operation, when based on notions upset eighty years ago, is a

wonderful thing. To the confusion of the skeptics, the Keely motor is

here, that is, not here but to be here three weeks hence. It has been

going to be here three hence for twelve years." ("The Persistence of

the Keely Motor," by Park Benjamin, The Forum for June 1886.)

He ascribes the persistence of this delusion to sheer

psychological perversity in that portion of the public that hesitates

to put any limit to the possibilities of science, as it understands

the term science.

The New Science Review for April 1895, nine years later, has an

article discussing the action of the motor, entitled "The Operation of

the Vibratory Circuit," by Mr. Keely himself, that is an almost

incredible jumble of terms.

He anchored his analysis of nature to a fundamental "trinity."

Every force and practically everything else was "triune." For him the

sacred number was not seven but three.

The basic idea of Keely's theory was that if one could catch and

impose upon matter, by sympathetic vibration, the extremely rapid

vibration that characterizes every atom and molecule, then, by the

resonance of atoms, he could effect a recombination that would

liberate and incalculable amount of energy.

At the time of these experiments radioactivity and the highly

radioactive substances were not known; radio-telegraphy and radio-

telephony had not dawned upon us and yet, how near each other wisdom

and folly may sit!

Keely's pretensions appear to have anticipated the very phenomena

and powers now associated with radioactivity and wireless signaling;

and when we consider the discussions and revelations of atomic energy

coming as genuine science within the last two or three years, these

seem like an Alpine glow of which he had some glimmering, upon

inaccessible peaks which he vainly strove to reach; but again when we

recollect that within a week of the close of the year 1920, a Leipsic

engineer fooled many savants by fraudulent claim to have discovered a

way to `liberate' (Keely's own word) and yet control that same atomic

energy, we can see what an easy path to notoriety the charlatan finds

along such lines.

It was not until after Keely's death that the fraudulent nature

of his scheme was established. It was then brought out by an

examination of his laboratory after the motor had been removed, and it

was found that the extraordinary performances of his complicated

machinery were controlled from a cellar in which a source of motive

power was operated.

This source of power was not actually identified but pipes and

connections seemed to indicate pretty plainly that it was compressed

air, which could be manipulated by the demonstrator in the laboratory.

Yet his real secret has never been revealed.

The motor was taken to Boston and set up, but it failed to

exhibit any "etheric force" when subjected to any vibratory influence,

after its removal form the laboratory in Philadelphia. For a period of

more than twenty-five years did this remarkable trickster not only

keep his chicanery hidden but escaped the discovery that his

pretensions really were impostures, and this in the face of experts

and others who witnessed tests of his machine.

Many an untrained witness was astounded by `ocular' evidence, and

to such an one the doubting smile of one who had not `seen' was

irritation , to say the least.

Perpetual motion continues to be achieved, but the `working

model' does not appear. The machine is set going, soon comes to a

stop, and consistently refuses to operate without help, a failure -

the souvenir of a delusion - of no more use than the Millerite's

ascension robe after the twenty-second of October, 1844.

Special thanks to Donald Simanek for photo's and history. See Keely Motor Company History at

Product #: KeelyMotor

Normal Price: $495.00
Our Sales Price: $395.00

(You Save: 20%)

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