John Joseph Merlin

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John-Joseph Merlin by Thomas Gainsborough

John-Joseph Merlin (17 September 1735 – 4 May 1803) was a Belgian inventor and horologist.


He was born Jean-Joseph Merlin in 1735 in the city of Huy, Belgium.[1] He was an inventor, noted for the invention of inline skates in 1760.[2] He also improved musical instruments and manufactured automata, such as Cox's timepiece. He created Merlin's Mechanical Museum to display his machines.[3] In conjunction with London inventor James Cox, Merlin was also responsible for the Silver Swan automaton now on display at the Bowes Museum in County Durham, England.[4] He worked in Paris and later in London, where he died in 1803.


  1. ^ John Joseph Merlin: Father of Inline Skating
  2. ^ Iveagh Bequest, John Joseph Merlin: the ingenious mechanick. Kenwood (London, England), Greater London Council. Public Relations Branch.
  3. ^ The Engines of Our Ingenuity, Episode No. 630: JOHN JOSEPH MERLIN, by John H. Lienhard [1]
  4. ^ Holledge, Richard (21 December 2012). "Magic Wrought by a Merlin". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 October 2014.