The charity English Heritage asked 2,005 people to pick their favourite invention from history. The final top 10 list ranges from the wheel, the fridge, sewers, the plough, penicillin, the internet, armour and light bulbs to the clock – and tea bags.
English Heritage said the latter were invented by accident in 1908 when American entrepreneur Thomas Sullivan decided to package tea in bags made of silk. It was the customers who assumed that the tea bags were intended to be dipped into hot water.
Now English Heritage wants the nation to choose a winner from the top 10 list by voting at www.english heritage.org.uk/ingeniousobjects
Details of the survey, conducted in April by ICM Unlimited on behalf of English Heritage, were revealed last week as the charity launched a nationwide exhibition celebrating human ingenuity throughout the ages.
As part of its Ingenious! season, English Heritage curators across the country have been searching through the charity’s collection of artefacts to identify the most ingenious objects in its care.
Matt Thompson, head collections curator at English Heritage said: “This summer, at our sites across the country, we’re celebrating ingenuity through the ages. From prehistoric axes to vintage vacuum cleaners, we’re showcasing some of the most important inventions of all time.
“At any one time English Heritage has around 100,000 artefacts on display. We may have missed a few ingenious objects in our search, so we want to invite the public to help fill in the gaps by getting out to our sites and tweeting us (#Ingenious) with anything they think should have been included.”
English Heritage is the custodian of over 400 historic monuments, buildings and sites which welcome more than 10 million visitors each year.