This was given to me as a boy by the daughter of Sylvanus Phillips Thompson, the biographer of Michael Faraday, who discovered the principles of magnetism. I believe it belonged to Faraday himself.
It represents to me the discovery and application of this elemental force of nature that has shaped the modern world.
The story behind the coil also says something about the role of chance in the ultimate destinations of historic objects. Miss Thompson had been my mother's science teacher at school, and had kept in touch with the family over many years.
She wrote "this little coil got left out when a little collection of Faraday's remnants (that were given to my father when he wrote the biography years and years ago) went...to the Imperial College archives last month." Explaining her kindness in giving it to me when I was aged about 13, she said that I might find it "an inspiration to handle one of Faraday's experimental bits, and submit it for exhibition when he sees fit in the course of his career".
So now I am "submitting the coil for exhibition" using a medium and technology that could not have existed without Farady's experiments with coils like this one.