April 3rd 1819
James Sandy, The Alyth GeniusWhen James Sandy was twelve he fell from a tree near to his home in Alyth. As a result of the injuries he suffered he lost a leg.
More bad luck was to befall him when he was sixteen. After very heavy rains the Alyth burn flooded and the water poured into the ground floor of his house which was built beside the burn. His mother tried to drag him upstairs to safety and in the struggle the other leg was broken. James was unable to walk and spent the rest of his life lying on a couch.
He had already shown great abilities as a craftsman and his couch was specially designed with raised sides to which could be fixed lathes and vices and cases to hold his tools. Here he worked producing a large range of objects.
In a poem written after his death by John Smith some of his multitudinous talents were mentioned.
Dirks aní sowards, bows aní arrows
He was prepared to try his hand at almost anything including false teeth and artificial limbs. He was well known for his work on fine optical instruments, clocks and musical instruments. However, he achieved a wider fame with the production of a new type of snuff box which was airtight when closed but contained a special hinge which did not become clogged with grains of snuff.
When he was fifty-three he decided to get married. Perhaps it was an unwise decision. He died nineteen days later on April 3rd 1819.