John Ernst Worrell Keely
John Ernst Worrell Keely (September 3, 1837 – November 18, 1898) was a US inventor from Philadelphia who claimed to have discovered a new motive power which was originally described as "vaporic" or "etheric" force, and later as an unnamed force based on "vibratory sympathy", by which he produced "interatomic ether" from water and air. Despite numerous requests from the stockholders of the Keely Motor Company, which had been established to produce a practicable motor based on his work, he consistently refused to reveal to them the principles on which his motor operated, and also repeatedly refused demands to produce a marketable product by claiming that he needed to perform more experiments.
He secured substantial investments from many people, among whom was John Jacob Astor.
Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, John Keely was orphaned in early childhood and was raised by his grandparents. Before becoming an inventor, he worked as a member of a theatrical orchestra, a painter, a carpenter, a carnival barker, and as a mechanic.
In 1872, Keely invited scientists to attend a demonstration at his laboratory at 1422 North Twentieth Street Philadelphia, of a machine which he asserted was motivated by a new and hitherto unknown force. Keely announced that he had discovered a principle for power production based on the musical vibrations of tuning forks and that music could resonate with atoms or with the aether. Public interest was aroused and within a few months the Keely Motor Company was formed in New York, with a capital of $5,000,000., equivalent to $95 million in 2013.
Keely delivered descriptions of the supposed principles of his process on various occasions.
In 1884, following the demonstration of his "Vaporic gun":
Stripping the process of all technical terms, it is simply this: I take water and air, two mediums of different specific gravity, and produces from them by generation an effect under vibrations that liberates from the air and water an inter atomic ether. The energy of this ether is boundless and can hardly be comprehended. The specific gravity of the ether is about four times lighter than that of hydrogen gas, the lightest gas so far discovered.— New York Times, 22 September 1884
Following a demonstration in June 1885:
It is an elaboration of interatomic ether by vibration. The atomic ether vibrates all around the molecules of matter. There is a magnetic force attached to it at the same time, and it assimilates with the molecular atomic aggregations - that is, assimilates with a certain attractive force that it is hard to tell what it is. I call it a vibratory negative. It don't act like a magnet drawing metals toward it. There is a certain magnetic effect about it that causes it to adhere by vibratory rotation to different forms of matter - that is the molecular, atomic, etheric, and ether-etheric. The impulse is given by metallic impulses, the rotary power that is formed by etheric vibration - that is the force that holds it in position.— New York Times, 7 June 1885
In the 19th century most physicists believed that all of space was filled with a medium called the "Luminiferous aether" (or "ether"), a hypothetical substance which was thought necessary for the transmission of electromagnetic waves and to the propagation of light, which was believed to be impossible in "empty" space. In 1887, an experiment was performed by Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley to attempt to confirm the existence of the ether. The experiment, named the Michelson-Morley experiment after the two scientists, shocked the scientific community by giving results which implied the ether's non-existence. This result was later used by Albert Einstein to refute the ether's existence, and to develop special relativity.
On November 10, 1874, Keely gave a demonstration of an "etheric generator" to a small group of people in Philadelphia. Keely blew into a nozzle for half a minute, then poured five gallons of tap water into the same nozzle. After some adjustments a pressure gauge indicated pressures of 10,000 psi which Keely said was evidence that the water had been disintegrated and a mysterious vapor had been liberated in the generator, capable of powering machinery. In subsequent demonstrations he kept changing the terminology he used, to "vibratory-generator" to a "hydro-pneumatic-pulsating-vacu-engine" to "quadruple negative harmonics". It was later reported that the witnesses of the demonstration were so impressed that they formed a stock company, purchased patent rights for the six New England states, and paid $50,000 in cash for their share in the invention.
The New York Times reported in June 1875 that Keely's new motive power was generated from cold water and air and evolved into a vapor "more powerful than steam, and considerably more economical". It reported that Keely refused to disclose what the vapor was or how it was generated until he had taken out patents in "all the countries of the globe which issue patent rights" which was estimated would cost around $30,000.
Keely said that the discovery of this new energy source was accidental. He said that the apparatus by which it was generated was called a "generator" or "multiplicator", from where it was then passed into a "receiver" and from there to the cylinders of a steam engine. The "generator" was reported as being about 3 ft (0.91 m), made of Austrian gunmetal in one piece, and holding about 10 or 12 gallons of water. Its inside was made up of cylindrical chambers connected by pipes and fitted with stopcocks and valves. The "receiver" or "reservoir" was about 40 in (1,000 mm) long by 6 in (150 mm) in diameter and connected to the "generator" by a 1 in (25 mm) diameter pipe. Keely claimed that his apparatus would generate his "vapor" from water solely by mechanical means without using any chemicals and claimed to be able to produce 2,000 psi in 5 seconds.
Clara Jessup Bloomfield Moore
In 1881, Keely met Clara Jessup Bloomfield Moore, the wealthy widow of a Philadelphia industrialist who had the year before established the Bloomfield Moore art collection. Mrs Moore became acquainted with Keely through her interest in scientific subjects, and remained his friend and patron up to the time of his death. She invested $100,000 plus a monthly salary of $250 (around $2.2 million and $5400/month in today's values ) so that he could devote his entire time and energy to the perfection of his motor and widely advocated him and his work, producing many articles and books.
Her family did not approve of her assuming obligations which they believed the company should fulfill under its contract with Keely. She made an arrangement with Keely on 12 April 1890 to furnish him with an additional $2,000 a month for his household and shop expenses and for instruments of research, which was to expire when he had gained sufficient control of his unknown force to enable him to resume his work under the direction of the management of the company upon a provisional engine. This arrived in December 1890, when Mrs Bloomfield Moore handed over to the Directors bills that had been presented since the expiration of Mr. Keely's contract with her.
On 14 December 1881 the stockholders of the Keely Motor Company held a meeting at which a report was read that complained that while they had faith in the merits of Keely's invention, the inventor was unreasonably secretive of the principles and operating methods of his apparatus. He had assured them that the "generator" had been perfected a year before, and that the "multiplicator" was also now perfected, and they considered it only fair and reasonable that the secrets of the machinery be revealed to them. They recommended that some intelligent and trustworthy person be taken into Keely's confidence "so that in the case of accident they would not be totally without a clue to the invention". The report complained at some length about Keely's uncommunicativeness and said that it was the experience of everyone who had come into contact with him over the previous ten years that "any attempt at a serious investigation of his operations has been met on his part with deception and misrepresentation".
Keely was reluctant to reveal his secrets, and filed a demurrer on 20 January 1882 to the bill in equity presented against him by the Keely Motor Company's stockholders. The demurrer was described as entirely technical, and gave a number of reasons why the court should not afford the plaintiffs the relief they sought. Argument was heard on the demurrer in Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas on 27 March, when it was argued that the inventor "could not be made to expose that which no one knew but himself and which was hidden in his own brain". However, Keely was overruled by Judge Pierce on 1 April 1882, who ordered him to "make known his process in the way indicated in the bill filed by the Keely Motor Company".
On 24 May Keely filed his answer to the stockholders' equity suit. He admitted the truth of the complainants' bill regarding the contract, and added that although, due to "certain abstruse difficulties by reason of the nature and qualities of the said force", he had so far failed to bring his inventions into practical use, he believed he would ultimately succeed.
In June 1882 a committee appointed by the Company's board of directors agreed that one William Boekel of Philadelphia was to be "instructed by Mr. Keely in the construction and operation of his inventions".
The annual meeting of the Company's stockholders on 13 December 1882 heard a report from Boekel in which he stated that what Keely claimed to have discovered was "the fact that water in its natural state is capable of being, by vibratory motion, disintegrated so that its molecular structure is broken up, and there is evolved therefrom a permanent expansive gas or ether, which result is produced by mechanical action". Boekel said that it would be improper to describe the mechanism used, and added that Keely had discovered all that he had claimed. It was later discovered by a Times reporter in August that Boekle had not yet been entrusted with the secrets of the motor as promised by Keely, and that the inventor kept delaying matters by telling Boekle that he could explain it to him in less than two hours after it was completed, and that he had not done so already because the engine had not yet reached that state.
On 28 August 1883, at the monthly meeting of the Company's directors, it was announced that Keely's engine would be ready for operation around the first week in September, and that a final inspection of it by the Trustees would be conducted on 29 August, at which the stockholders were expected to be present. When the inspection was made the following day, however, Keely said that it would not be ready for another six weeks.
On 29 October 1883 it was reported that the Company's stockholders were to bring another suit against the inventor in the name of the company for "fulfilment of his many pledges". At a meeting of the Board of Directors the following day, Keely made a statement explaining his progress, saying that he was constructing a street chamber to hold his vapor and that when this was complete a demonstration would be given, and his explanation was voted "very satisfactory" by the directors.
At the annual stockholders' meeting on 12 December 1883 a letter from Keely was read out, in which the inventor said that he could not see why he might not fulfil the shareholders' expectations in the next two months and suggested that the stockholders' meeting be postponed to 1 February 1884. This proposal met with some disagreement from some stockholders, and it was decided to give Keely no funds for the next 60 days. When the promised stockholders' meeting was held on 1 February 1884, another postponement was announced at Keely's request. A board meeting which took place on 25 March 1884 reported that the vibratory engine was finished, that "the work of adjusting and focalizing is progressing rapidly", and that Keely had set the date for the demonstration of the motor to take place on or before 10 April.
On 20 September 1884 Keely demonstrated a "vaporic gun" at Sandy Hook to a party of Government officials. He said that he had brought with him five gallons of "vaporic force" in a "receiver" which, if the experiments were successful, would show that no bogus aids had been used. The gun was described as a small gun with a 1.25 in (32 mm) bore, resting on wheels, with an iron "receiver" 4.5 ft (1.4 m) long containing Keely's mysterious force connected to it by "an iron wire tube" 3/16" in diameter. Keely rammed a small lead ball about 5 oz (140 g) in weight into the gun's muzzle, then tapped the iron "receiver" with a hammer. He explained that this was to stimulate the "vibratory force". He then turned a handle and the ball was fired from the gun with a short, sharp report but no smoke and very little recoil. It was reported that the projectile had been fired a distance of 300 yd (270 m). More shots were fired and their velocity measured; one attained 482 ft/s (147 m/s), another 492 ft/s (150 m/s), and yet another 523 ft/s (159 m/s). The gun was also tested by firing against three 3 in (76 mm) thick spruce planks and penetrated the first and went halfway through the second. Keely said that he had used a pressure of 7,000 psi and could use 30,000 psi.
The following day Keely met with a reporter to whom he declared that his experimenting days were over and that complete success was close. He announced that his motor would be completed in less than two months and that he would then make a public exhibition of its powers.
The vaporic gun failed to impress Lieutenant E.L. Zalinski, who had witnessed the demonstration. He told the President of the Keely Motor Company, A.R. Edey, that with the same apparatus he could perform the same experiments with compressed air, and go even further than Keely had gone. Edey said he would "speak about it to Mr. Keely," but offer was not accepted. Zalinski said that none of the experiments at Sandy Hook showed that Keely had discovered a new force.
Zalinski later attended a demonstration at Keely's workshop in November, in place of Colonel John Hamilton. He later reported that he suggested to Keely that it would be a more complete test of his power if he would discharge a large reservoir which he showed his guests, and then recharge it using his generator. Keely declined to do this, on the grounds that it would take two hours - despite his many statements that he could generate force in a few seconds - and that the reservoir had been "carefully negatized". Keely also claimed to have achieved pressures of 50,000 psi, and that he had broken all his pressure gauges. When Zalinski produced a pressure gauge he had brought with him - capable of registering 10,000 psi - and offered it to Keely, saying "I would like to have you put it on, and break it for me", Keely was momentarily lost for words before saying, "I do not believe in pressure gauges, anyhow."
June 1885 demonstration
On 6 June 1885 Keely gave what he called "an exhibition" of his motor at his workshop at North Twentieth Street, Philadelphia. Around 20 witnesses attended, including newspaper reporters, a mechanical engineer, and officers and stockholders of the Keely Motor Company. A reporter noticed a "large iron globular object" which he was told was a new engine which Keely was engaged in building.
Keely assembled an apparatus on top of which was screwed a globe with several apertures to which tubes were fixed, leading to cylinders. A reporter asked if he could see the globe's contents, but Keely declined, saying that it would take too long, and that he wished to show results rather than the mechanism. Keely then proceeded by taking a violin bow and rubbing it across one of two large tuning forks which formed part of his apparatus. After making a minor adjustment to the device, he opened a stopcock leading into one of the cylinders and the witnesses heard "a hiss as of escaping air". Keely told them that it was in fact "etheric vapor", adding "It ain't compressed air or any vapor having substance." The force was then used to lift some weights, and Keely claimed that he had about 22,000 psi of pressure at his disposal.
A further demonstration was given, of a rotating iron globe suspended on an axle, which was used to saw some wood. The globe was not opened, Keely saying that it was hollow and empty, and his assistants saying that it contained "some bits of mechanism". A sceptical reporter, who believed that it was in fact operating on compressed air, asked how long the engine could work. Keely replied that he had one run for 40 days, whereupon the reporter suggested he simply run it for half an hour, just making the globe rotate. Keely duly set the globe rotating, and it ran for less than 15 minutes, constantly decreasing in power, before he stopped it.
On 26 March 1886 Keely performed a demonstration before a committee of scientists and engineers from New York, where he obtained a pressure of 2,700 psi apparently by using a single pint of water, and then doubled the pressure by adding more water. Keely claimed that the "etheric force" by which these results were obtained would be utilized as fully as possible in the 25,000 hp engine on which he was then working.
The stockholders of the Keely Motor Company met on 14 December 1887, and expressed their confidence in Keely's ultimate success. Keely did not attend the meeting, but supplied a report in which he reviewed his efforts and experiments since 1882 and announced that he had abandoned "etheric force" in favour of a new force which was unnamed but which he said was based on "vibratory sympathy".
On 3 January 1888 an injunction was granted against Keely on behalf of complainant Bennett C. Wilson, who said that in 1863 he had entered into an agreement with Keely, who he had originally engaged to varnish furniture. The agreement was that Wilson was to find tools and materials and pay the expenses of inventions made by Keely, Keely agreeing that all inventions so made, and patents obtained, should be equally owned by him and Wilson. On 14 August 1869 Keely assigned a half ownership in what was referred to as the "Keely motor" to Wilson, who claimed that Keely had then assigned all rights and title to the invention later that same month in return for funds.
Wilson alleged that he had only recently become aware that the machine called the "Keely motor" was the same as the one constructed in 1869 and assigned to him. He asked for an injunction restraining Keely from removing the machine or altering its construction or mode of operation, and requested that an order also be made compelling Keely to exhibit to the complainant all models, machines, and drawings of the invention referred to in the assignments to Wilson, and that an order be made compelling Keely to fully disclose the invention and the mode of constructing and operating it.
On 7 April a formal order was made directing Bennett Wilson, his attorney, and four experts, to make a full and detailed inspection of the Keely motor, its mode of construction, and principle of operation within 30 days. The four experts were named as Dr. Charles M. Cresson, Analytical Chemist of City and State Boards of Health; Thomas Shaw, mechanical engineer; William D. Marks, civil engineer and Professor of Dynamical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania; and Jacob Naylor, iron founder and President of the Eighth National Bank. The result of the inspection was to make known only whether the present Keely motor was or was not the same apparatus that he was alleged to have assigned to Wilson in 1869.
On 18 September it was revealed that Keely had not yet obeyed the court order, despite the time span having been increased to 60 days, and a lawyer representing Bennett Wilson said he believed Keely never would comply with the order and that he had never intended to do so. Finally, on 17 November 1888, Keely was jailed in Moyamensing Prison for contempt of court for refusing the court order to "operate and explain the mode of operation" of the Keely Motor. However, he was soon released on bail on 20 November by three judges of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Finally, on 28 January 1889, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania handed down an opinion reversing the order committing Keely to prison for contempt, and ordered his discharge. The opinion declared that the order commanding Keely to "exhibit, explain, and operate his motor" was premature, and that the court had no right to enforce the order by committing Keely to jail for contempt.
On March 28, 1889 Keely's counsel announced that the inventor had the "missing link" which was needed to make the "vibratory resonator and ethereal generative evaporator" a success. It was described as a copper tube in the form of a loop, with the ends welded together so that no joint could be seen, and had been made in copper due to that metal's "resonant properties". A private demonstration of Keely's motor was promised as soon as the tube was "adjusted", and was stated as likely to occur "in a week or two".
At the Keely Motor Company's stockholders' meeting in December, a report was read from Keely in which he discussed the difficulties he had had with the Board of Directors during 1889 and said that while the work of "graduating" or adjusting his provisional engine had not progressed as rapidly as he had expected, no serious obstacles had presented themselves, and there were no difficulties affecting the principle or "essence" of his work. While he could not give a timescale for when the graduation of the engine would be completed, Keely said that it would not be a protracted period, and that when it was finished, one or more engines would at once be ordered.
In June 1895 the trade journal Electricity published a challenge to Keely, in which they said that they would undertake to repeat every phenomenon produced by Keely within 60 days. Keely ignored this challenge.
After an absence of several years in England, Mrs Moore returned to the US to deal with litigation concerning her late husband's estate. Her advocacy of Keely and his inventions formed part of the case and she decided to strengthen her position by getting eminent physicists to examine his inventions. Among those invited were Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, both of whom declined the opportunity for various reasons.
Keely again informed the directors of his company in early November 1895 that "before the end of the year" he would "positively be all through with his work to prove conclusively that" he has devised "a practical commercial working engine" operated by his new force.
On 14 November it was reported that another meeting had been arranged between Keely and Mrs Bloomfield Moore and New York capitalists headed by John Jacob Astor, who were interested in the Keely Motor Company. It was reported the following week that Astor had purchased a large interest in the motor from "a person who for some years past has been an enthusiastic advocate of M. Keely".
Also in November 1895, Mrs Moore invited Addison B. Burk, president of the Spring Garden Institute to make an inspection. Burk asked if electrical engineer E. Alexander Scott of the Engineers Club could accompany him, and this was agreed to. In the event, Scott took charge of the investigation as he was familiar with Keely and had talked to him in 1874.
Scott made several visits to Keely's workshop, beginning on 9 November 1895, and was shown many demonstrations. Among these was a levitation experiment where heavy weights in sealed flasks of water were made to rise and fall in response to differently pitched sounds from a zither, to activate a "globe liberator" which then transmitted "the aetheric force" through a wire to the water container. This had been shown to many investors and investigators. Scott was accompanied by Burk on his second and third visits and when the two analysed what they had seen they concluded that compressed air had been used in nearly all the experiments, in some cases alongside another more powerful but hidden force. The demonstration with the rising and falling weights was powered by compressed air via a thin tube which Keely had assured Burk and Scott was a solid wire and which was a common feature in nearly every piece of apparatus in Keely's laboratory.
Burk and Scott reported their findings to Mrs Moore, who was concerned by the negative report, and also by dismissive articles in the press. It was reported on 22 March 1896 that Mrs Bloomfield Moore had arranged with Professor Wentworth Lascelles Scott of London to investigate Keely's claims of etheric force and also to examine his other inventions. It was said that "an important series of tests will be made in the presence of the scientist". Lascelles Scott was allowed to examine whatever he wanted and had complete instructions on its use from Keely. After spending a month investigating, Lascelles Scott stated to a meeting of the Franklin Institute that "Keely has demonstrated to me, in a way which is absolutely unquestionable, the existence of a force hitherto unknown."
Since Lascelles Scott and Alexander Scott disagreed, they were brought together to witness more demonstrations by Keely. Mrs Moore suggested that a definitive test would be to cut the wire that Scott alleged was in fact an air pipe, but Keely flatly refused to do so and Mrs Moore, her faith shaken, reduced Keely's monthly salary.
On 24 December 1895 Mrs Bloomfield Moore said that due to the position taken by the managers of the old Keely Motor Company at the annual meeting, and the delay on the part of the stockholders in accepting his proposition for a reorganization, Keely had decided not to take out any patents on his inventions, and would instead adopt a royalty system in dealing with his inventions commercially. Mrs Moore said that at least 30 patents would be required, which would take much time and money which would be better used in developing Keely's system.
On 18 June 1897 Keely demonstrated his new etheric engine to the General Manager of the Manhattan Elevated Railway, the Chief Engineer of Western Union, and a representative of the Metropolitan Traction Company. All were reported as being surprised at the force produced by Keely's new motor, but declined to express any opinion as to its value. The engine was reported as weighing about 200 lb (91 kg) and being capable of developing 10 hp.
Keely died at his home in Philadelphia from pneumonia on 18 November 1898. His will was admitted to probate on 1 December, and bequeathed his entire estate of about $10,000 to his widow, Anna M. Keely, who was appointed his executor. The will made no reference to his motor.
After his death a close friend revealed that he had once asked Keely what he wanted for an epitaph, and Keely had replied, "Keely, the greatest humbug of the nineteenth century". Keely is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
The first meeting of the Keely Motor Company's stockholders following his death was held on 20 December 1898. Charles S. Hill, his widow's attorney, stated that Keely's secret did not exist in manuscript form, but that Keely had suggested before his death that an inventor, Thomas Burton Kinraide of Boston, was the one man who could successfully carry on his work. Hill then announced that he had a secret which he would pass on to only one person. This secret, he said, was "of a nature to encourage the stockholders and to induce them to leave everything in Kinraide's hands for one year". John J. Smith, one of the Company's Directors, was appointed to confer with Hill, and later reported that the secret told to him by Hill "offered great encouragement to the stockholders" but did not divulge any further details.
In January 1899 Kinraide had 20 large packing cases transported to his laboratory in Jamaica Plain, Boston, said to contain the material part of Keely's motor. Kinraide said that he had often talked with Keely about the principles of his invention and said that he felt he knew more about it than any other person. He was to continue with Keely's experiments at the request of Mr. and Mrs Keely. However, on 6 May 1899 it was reported that Kinraide had abandoned all work on the Keely motor and was to return all the machines and notes to the Keely Company. He stated that he wanted nothing more to do with the motor due to the notoriety caused him by the Philadelphia Press's report and when asked whether he thought the motor was a fraud simply replied that he had not arrived at any such conclusion and had decided to make no further investigations.
Philadelphia Press investigation
On 19 January 1899 The Philadelphia Press published an illustrated article detailing an investigation made by the newspaper of Keely's workshop, in which the Press contended that the investigation had clearly proven Keely's motor to have been "a delusion and deception" and that its alleged mysterious forces were the result of trickery.
The investigation, which took a week, was assisted by consulting engineer Professor Carl Hering, Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania Professor Arthur W. Goodspeed, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania Lightner Witmer, and Doctor M. G. Miller, who superintended digging operations. Electrical engineer Clarence B. Moore, the son of Mrs. Bloomfield Moore, was an observer. The scientists involved substantiated the report with signed statements.
The floors of Keely's workshop were taken up and a brick wall was removed. Inside the wall they found mechanical belts linked to a silent water motor two floors below the laboratory. In the basement there was a three-ton sphere of compressed air that ran the machines through hidden high pressure tubes and switches. The walls, ceilings and even solid beams were found to have concealed tubes. Journalists documented everything photographically to leave no room for doubt. Hering and Goodspeed were of the opinion that the tubing and the large steel sphere in the basement indicated the use of normal forces and possible deception, and Hering said in his signed statement that Keely had probably lied and deceived, and was satisfied that he had used highly compressed air to power his demonstrations.
At a meeting of the Keely Motor Company's board on 25 January 1899, President B. L. Ackerman issued a statement denying the Philadelphia Press report. The statement claimed that the tubes mentioned in the report had been discarded by Keely years before, and that in all his experiments since 1887 only solid wires had been used. Up to that time, it was stated, Keely had been working on a theory of etheric or vaporic force, and used the tubes to convey this force, but after 1887 he was convinced that he had discovered what he called "vibratory sympathy". A concealed electric wire discovered in Keely's workshop was described by Ackerman as the remains of the wires of a burglar alarm, and in no way connected with the force used by Keely's motor. The statement denied all assertions that Keely was an imposter, and declared that there was no trickery in any of the results that Keely had claimed to have obtained.
Today, Philadelphia has forgotten all about its infamous resident. Even Keely's old house has completely disappeared and the site is now a private parking lot for the property next door. A model of Keely's engine was in the collection of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and an "Etheric Force Machine" of his dating from 1878 is in the American Precision Museum in Windsor, Vermont.
Keely still has supporters, who continue to claim that he was framed.
"Unfortunately the history books took the Scientific American debunking as fact and John Keely has been portrayed historically as a fraud and a conman. This is because Clarence Moore found the floor of Keeley's 'workshop' raised and saw a pressure machine that was hooked up to his machines to make them look like they actually worked. Those who have any inkling of physics who have studied what remains of his work, know these reports to be mostly erroneous."— Jerry Decker, KeelyNet.com
Keely's theories were featured prominently in the 1998 book Gods of Eden by Andrew Collins, in relation to the theoretical use of SVP-based devices as systems of levitation.
- Federal Writers' Project, Philadelphia: A Guide to the Nation's Birthplace, US History Publishers, p. 119, ISBN 1-60354-058-X
- US Inflation Calculator
- "KEELY'S ETHERIC VAPOR; HE EXPLAINS HIS INVENTION TO A REPORTER. THE INVENTOR SATISFIED WITH HIS SANDY HOOK EXPERIMENTS--ANOTHER PUBLIC TEST PROMISED SOON." (PDF), New York Times, 22 September 1884
- "KEELY'S RED LETTER DAY; HE STARTS HIS MOTOR FOR A FEW MORE TURNS. SOME CURIOUS TRICKERY WHICH HIS STOCKHOLDERS APPLAUDED AND HIS LEARNED EXPLANATION OF IT." (PDF), New York Times, 7 June 1885
- Own, Our (11 June 1875), "THE KEELY MOTOR.; WHAT IS CLAIMED FOR IT." (PDF), New York Times
- "MRS. BLOOMFIELD MOORE DEAD.; Philadelphia Woman, Interested in the Keely Motor, Dies in London -- An Eventful Life." (PDF), New York Times, 6 January 1899
- "RID OF KEELY AT LAST.; HIS GREATEST BENEFACTOR WASHES HER HANDS OF THE "INVENTOR."" (PDF), New York Times, 18 December 1890
- "KEELY'S SECRET DEMANDED.; THE STOCKHOLDERS OF THE MOTOR COMPANY WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING." (PDF), New York Times, 15 December 1881
- "KEELY WISHES TO KEEP HIS SECRET." (PDF), New York Times, 21 January 1882
- "SEEKING KEELY'S SECRET." (PDF), New York Times, 28 March 1882
- "KEELY TO DIVULGE HIS SECRET." (PDF), New York Times, 2 April 1882
- "KEELY'S ALLELGED MOTOR." (PDF), New York Times, 25 May 1882
- "ONE MAN TO KNOW KEELY'S SECRET." (PDF), New York Times, 8 June 1882
- "MR.KEELY NOT YET READY.; ANNUAL MEETING OF THE MOTOR COMPANY --REPORTS OF KEELY AND BOEKEL." (PDF), New York Times, 14 December 1882
- "THE KEELY MOTOR COMPLETED.; TO BE READY FOR OPERATION THE FIRST WEEK IN SEPTEMBER." (PDF), New York Times, 29 August 1883
- "MR. KEELY'S PERFORMANCES.; ANOTHER POSTPONEMENT OF THE MOTOR TEST ANNOUNCED." (PDF), New York Times, 30 August 1883
- "DISGUSTED KEELY MOTOR MEN." (PDF), New York Times, 30 October 1883
- "KEELY EXPLAINS AGAIN." (PDF), New York Times, 31 October 1883
- "MORE TIME FOR KEELY.; THE MOTOR MAN GRANTED TWO MONTHS TO COMPLETE HIS INVENTION." (PDF), New York Times, 13 December 1883
- "THE MOTOR STILL NOT READY." (PDF), New York Times, 2 February 1884
- "KEELY NOT YET READY." (PDF), New York Times, 26 March 1884
- "KEELY'S VAPORIC FORCE.; EXPERIMENTS WITH A MYSTERIOUS GUN AT SANDY HOOK." (PDF), New York Times, 21 September 1884
- "LIEUT. ZALINSKI AND MR. KEELY." (PDF), New York Times, 24 September 1884
- "KEELY BEARDED IN HIS DEN; TOO MUCH NECROMANCY AND TOO LITTLE SCIENCE. LIEUT. ZALINSKI'S VISIT TO THE PHILADELPHIA CONJURER UNSATISFACTORY--WHAT COMPRESSED AIR WILL DO." (PDF), New York Times, 16 November 1884
- "KEELY STILL PROMISING WONDERS." (PDF), New York Times, 27 March 1886
- "KEELY'S CHANGE OF BASE; HIS "ETHERIC FORCE" LONG SINCE ABANDONED. "VIBRATORY SYMPATHY" HIS PLEA NOW FOR EXTRACTING MONEY FROM CONFIDING STOCKHOLDERS." (PDF), New York Times, 15 December 1887
- "THE MOTOR GETS INTO COURT.; A SUIT WHICH MAY FORCE KEELY TO SHOW HIS HAND." (PDF), New York Times, 4 January 1888
- "THE KEELY MOTOR EXPERTS." (PDF), New York Times, 8 April 1888
- "KEELY NOT YET IN JAIL.; WHY THE COURT HESITATES TO COMMIT HIM." (PDF), New York Times, 19 September 1888
- "INVENTOR KEELY IN JAIL.; SENT TO PRISON FOR REFUSING TO OBEY THE COURT." (PDF), New York Times, 18 November 1888
- "KEELY OUT ON BAIL.; THE CONTEMPT CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT." (PDF), New York Times, 21 November 1888
- "KEELY NOT IN CONTEMPT.; THE ORDER COMMITTING HIM REVERSED BY THE SUPREME COURT." (PDF), New York Times, 29 January 1889
- "KEELY'S MISSING LINK." (PDF), New York Times, 28 March 1889
- "KEELEY STILL PROMISING.; CONSOLING HIS VICTIMS WITH EMPTY WORDS. HE ADMITS THAT HIS "GRADUATING" WORK IS SADLY BEHINDS BUT CLAIMS ULTIMATE SUCCESS FOR HIS "MOTOR."" (PDF), New York Times, 18 December 1889
- "KEELY'S MOTOR." (PDF), New York Times, 8 November 1895
- Ord-Hume, Arthur W. J. G. (2006), Perpetual Motion: The History of an Obsession, Adventures Unlimited Press, p. 143, ISBN 1-931882-51-7
- "Astor and Keely to Confer Again" (PDF), New York Times, 15 November 1895
- Ord-Hume, p. 144
- "To Investigate Keely's Claims." (PDF), New York Times, 22 March 1896
- "What Keely Will Do." (PDF), New York Times, 25 December 1895
- "A KEELY MOTOR TESTED.; New Etheric Engine and Its Powers Displayed in Philadelphia to Representative Railroad Men." (PDF), New York Times, 20 June 1897
- "KEELY, THE INVENTOR, DEAD.; Maker of the Famous "Motor" Expires Suddenly at His Home in Philadelphia." (PDF), The New York Times, 19 November 1898
- "INVENTOR KEELY'S WILL FILED." (PDF), The New York Times, 2 December 1898
- Ord-Hume, p. 147
- "THE KEELY MOTOR COMPANY.; Stockholders Hardly Know What to Do Now that Keely Is Dead -- Mysterious Communication." (PDF), The New York Times, 21 December 1898
- "KEELY'S MOTOR IN BOSTON.; Mr. Kinraide to Continue Experiments with the Invention." (PDF), The New York Times, 4 January 1899
- "KEELY MOTOR ABANDONED.; T. Burton Kinraide Will Have No More to Do with It." (PDF), The New York Times, 7 May 1899
- "Keely's Secret Disclosed.; Scientists Examine His Laboratory and Discover Hidden Tubes in Proof of His Deception." (PDF), The New York Times, 20 January 1899
- "DENIES KEELY WAS AN IMPOSTOR; President of the Motor Company Defends the Dead Inventor." (PDF), The New York Times, 26 January 1889
- Ord-Hume, p. 150
- Schadewald, Robert J. (2008), Worlds of Their Own - A Brief History of Misguided Ideas: Creationism, Flat-Earthism, Energy Scams, and the Velikovsky Affair, Xlibris, ISBN 978-1-4363-0435-1
- Paijmans, Theo (1998), Free Energy Pioneer: John Worrell Keely, Illuminet Press, ISBN 1-881532-15-1
- "Etheric Force Machine" at the American Precision Museum
- Decker, Jerry, and Chuck Henderson, "KeelyNet". KeelyNet, Carrollton, Texas. Website of Keely supporters.
- Pond, Dale, "Sympathetic Vibratory Physics — Historical articles on John Keely".
- Simanek, Donald E., "Keely Motor Company". The Museum of Unworkable Devices Main Gallery.
- Pond, Dale, "Sympathetic Vibratory Physics - It's a Musical Universe". SVPvril, 2001.
- Dale Pond on Google Video demonstrating the principles of a Keely motor. (3 hours in 2 parts)
- Biography-West Laurel Hill Cemetery web site
- John Worrell Keely: Über das Prinzip seiner Erfindungen. http://www.lohengrin-verlag.de/keely/keelytexte.htm
- R. Harte: "Keely's Secrets: Introduction" — 1888 article published by The Theosophical Publishing Society.