edit 7 Nov '07:
Summary: this thread illustrates and contains a video demonstration of the first-ever
mains-powered electric motor.
All previous motors were battery powered curios for the laboratory and the classroom,
until, that is, about the year 1882, when the first, small electric fan (still battery powered) was introduced.
1882 marks the beginning of Edison's central power generation for incandescent lighting, begun in New York City.
Three personalities are behind this motor you're about to see.
Schuyler S. Wheeler, at 22, was one of the builders of the Pearl Street station.
Francis B. Crocker was an inventor and more.
Charles G. Curtis was a partner.
The two latter men took Wheeler into their new partnership in 1886. Goal: to make and market the first appliance motors.
One model would be to drive the ubiquitous sewing machine. Think of tailor shops.
Another would be an electric fan, of which Wheeler may be said to have been the inventor,
at least, of the first mains-powered electric fan.
This motor represents the first application of mains power to a device other than the arc or incandescent lamp.
It is the beginning of the electro-kinetic era.
I will update this old posting again as the information comes to light and can be sorted into a readable form.
How I learned, just the other day, about Wheeler's association with the short-lived C&C firm:
screenshot from Cassier's (engineering) Magazine, Spring 1901
The complete magazine in PDF form
Crocker and Wheeler differed in their aims from Curtis, and so the partnership with Curtis ended and Crocker and Wheeler went into successful collaboration, themselves as manufacturers of motors.
Wheeler later founded what would become the IEEE.
Curtis was also important. Today again, via Google search made possible by gaining Curtis' full name, afforded through the 1901 article; Curtis went on to invent and to make the first steam turbine-powered generator: 500kW, 1903.
Charles. G. Curtis
All three of these men were key players in creating power systems from day one.
Wheeler was even one of the builders of Edison's Pearl Street station.
Crocker founded Columbia University's dep't of Electrical Engineering.
All learned by the turning up of an old motor, as follows
------------------------Original posting resumes----
Photos, just taken, of an early Curtis and Crocker motor.
Thinking it may be of general interest to people here,
I would like to post a series of snapshots.
The motor is operable and original (unmolested), including the finishes.
A similar, nearly identical motor (in electric fan form) is seen at
Note that these motors are electrically identical, yet the rpm ratings are at variance.
The fan blade would account for that; loading the motor as it does.
the data plate of the fabled, super-rare C&C fan linked above
This motor illustrated below was probably put to work as a sewing machine motor (my opinion).
Perhaps in a shop; more likely for commercial duty, I'd think, than for casual home use
--it's not much work to sew a hem or sleeve.
But if you do sew all day long every day--why, sir, an Electric Motor--fed for a penny's worth, from Mr. Edison's wire: this little machine bespokes tailors into the new age of labor saving efficiencies.
The power is taken off via a cleverly quick-detachable wooden pulley
sized to accept round leather belting such as was used with treadle operated sewing machines.
Imagine that one might obtain various diameters of pulley
for particular sewing purposes or speeds.