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However, the 14in (35cm) high example pictured right, made by Samuel Metford in 1846, has an extra element of interest in the left-hand group which depicts a young man demonstrating a Leyden jar to an older seated woman.

The Leyden jar, invented in the mid-18th century, was a significant discovery in the development of electricity. It consisted of a glass jar of water with foil electrodes on both surfaces which, when electrified, gave out a large voltage and long spark discharges.

During the 19th century, such demonstrational equipment served an added use as popular entertainment.

For example, someone's hair could be made to stand on end if they stood on a stool where a Leyden jar was positioned and touched a prime conductor.

This little glimpse of science as a Victorian parlour game netted £1050 in Bonhams' February 2 sale of portrait miniatures.