Set of 'artificial' magnets, c 1762.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
'Artificial magnets', introduced in 1750, were known as such to distinguish them from the natural magnetite lodestones which had been in use for several centuries. They were cheap, strong, easy to magnetize, and had a convenient shape. These bars were made by George Adams, instrument maker to the king, for King George III. They were used to show attraction and repulsion, demonstrate lines of force with iron filings, and pick up soft iron balls.