Stamps honour legendary safety engineer John C Taylor’s inventions
19 Sep 2017
The inventor of the kettle switch used a billion times a day worldwide has been honoured with a series of stamps.
Engineer Dr John C Taylor’s numerous safety-critical electrical components include the Strix bimetal switch for kettles and the Otter G electro mechanical switch for small appliances such as hairdryers and electric blankets.
Now his adopted home, the Isle of Man, is commemorating Taylor’s life and works with six stamps illustrating some of his key achievements.
Commenting at the launch, Taylor said: “I’m delighted by the creativity shown by the Isle of Man Post Office which has captured my life story in a colourful and imaginative way.
“I have lived my life deliberating, inventing, creating, producing and perfecting. Through this unique issue of stamps, the Isle of Man Post Office has captured my life’s work. It would be marvellous if others seeing the stamps were to follow my motto, ‘Cogitate Incogitata’ – Think the Unthinkable.”
Since his first application in 1962, Taylor has amassed a total of 400 patents and been responsible for numerous inventions. Of these, his kettle switch has had the greatest global impact.
This unique issue of stamps has captured my life’s work
Dr John C Taylor, inventor
Early electric kettles required constant supervision with danger of fires starting if not properly used. Taylor created a small, bimetallic, safety-critical control to automatically switch off the element when the water boils or if no water is in the vessel.
His invention made use of the different properties of two metals bonded together as a thin strip, one of which expands more than the other when exposed to heat. This ensures the strip bends one way when it is heated and the other way when it cools. This creep movement ensures a snap action temperature-calibrated blade to switch off the boiling kettle.
Taylor’s Otter G switch – invented while working for his father’s firm Otter Controls – is a control employed as a temperature-sensitive thermostat or safety cut-out for small domestic appliances. Being current-sensitive, it is widely used in electric motors including for washing machines, cars, typically window lifts and windscreen wipers.
Taylor’s company Strix, founded in 1981 and run by him until his retirement in 1999, has been responsible for manufacturing more than 2 billion controls.
Both his celebrated inventions are featured in the stamp series, together with four significant events from his life: the chronophage clock, the Taylor clock collection, the Taylor Library and Professorship of Innovation, and his Arragon Mooar home and production facility.
All funds received by Professor Taylor from the sale of the stamps issue will go to the Teapot Trust for chronically ill children.