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British Industrial History

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Andrea Crestadoro

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Dr. Andrea (Andrew) Crestadoro (1808–1879) was a bibliographer who became Chief Librarian of Manchester Free Library, 1864–1879. He is credited with being the first person to propose that books could be catalogued by using keywords that did not occur in the title of the book. His ideas also included a metallic balloon, reform of the tax system, and improvements to a railway locomotive – the Impulsoria – that was powered by four horses on a treadmill.

1808 Born in Genoa and was educated there before he studied for his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Turin.

1849 He left his position as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin to come to England to further his interest in mechanical devices. In England he took out a number of patents including improvements to the Impulsoria.

Crestadoro improved the design of an unusual device called the Impulsoria, which was a mobile treadmill-powered locomotive. The invention was made by Clemente Masserano, who was from Pignerol in Italy. Following his improvements Crestadoro exhibited the Impulsoria at The Great Exhibition held in the Crystal Palace in 1851. The power was transferred to the wheels using chains[5] and a gearbox that allowed it to climb. It was said to be able to pull 30 wagons up an incline and could be used with two or four horses.

Another suggestion from Crestadoro was to replace the paddle wheels or propellors on steamships with a smooth cylinder. He argued that the paddles or propellor blades were unnecessary, proposing smooth cylinders instead, which he suggested would gain traction by being immersed in the water.

Crestadoro was given the task of creating a catalogue for the Manchester Library. He is credited with being the first person to propose that books could be catalogued by using keywords that did not occur in the title of the book. The system was called keyword in titles, which was first proposed for Manchester libraries in 1864. This system was developed many years later as Key Word in Context (KWIC) by Hans Peter Luhn and was used in early computer based indexing.

Crestadoro was an acquaintance of Anthony Panizzi, Principal Librarian of the British Museum and he was employed as a reader there. Exasperated by the delays in the publication by the British Museum of a Catalogue of Printed Books, Crestadoro wrote The Art of Making Catalogues of Libraries: Or A Method To Obtain In A Short Time A Most Perfect, Complete, And Satisfactory Printed Catalogue Of The British Museum Library which was published anonymously in 1856. The catalogue was to include 800,000 books but it had been in progress for over 20 years and consumed generous grants that had far exceeded £100,000 in 1853.

Crestadoro published books on a number of subjects. His 1868 book proposed a method of dispensing with both gas and ballast by using a metallic balloon for flight. This too was exhibited at Crystal Palace in 1868. At the end of his life he was publishing ideas for the fairer allocation of taxation. After Crestadoro died in 1879 it was discovered that there was a partly built glider in one of the Manchester libraries.

1862 Patent. '1786. And Andrea Crestadoro, of Genoa, in Italy, Professor of Natural Philosophy, but now resident at 19, Great Ormond-street, Queen-square, in the county of Middlesex, has given the like notice in respect of the invention of "improvements in obtaining and applying motive power from rarefied air, and from aeriform fluids."'[1]

1871 Living at 21 Rumford Street, Chorlton on Medlock: Andrea Crestadoro (age 62 born Genoa, Italy - naturalised British subject), Ph.D. of the University of Turin. Chief Librarian of the Manchester Free Libraries. With his wife Eliza M. Crestadoro (age 45 born London). One servant.[2]

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