Instrumentation Collection

Welcome to the instrumentation collection at the Aberystwyth University Physics Museum. Here you will find many interesting pieces of instrumentation dating from the 19th century, used to take measurements and readings from a variety of different experiments and in lecture demonstrations.

This collection is split into six sections:




Pistol Ignitor








By Willats, Cheapside, London, 1890

A small pistol used for detonating gaseous mixtures by electrostatic spark.



Electrostatic Gas Lighter






By Clarke, 1900

Used for lighting gaseous substances, this lighter makes use of the piezo-electric effect to generate a small spark to ignite the gas.


Torsion Balance

By Harvey and Peak, London, 1890


A rectangular case of wood and glass for a torsion balance, used to detect torque on a hanging mass.



Hartmann-Braun Electromagnet Accessories

By Hartmann-Braun, Frankfurt

An assortment of apparatus previously used in the Honours lab with a Hartmann-Braun Electromagnet.


Circular Resistance Boxes

By British Telegraph Manufactory Ltd. London. 1900


These resistance boxes, known as decade boxes, were used to test early telegraph lines. One is labelled ‘G. P. O. 543’.  


Radio Resistance Box No. 5710

By Nalder Bros. & Co., London. 1910


A decade box used for testing telegraph wires. From the B. Davies collection.



Reversing Switch

By Elliot Bros., London. 1900


An instrument with four terminals allowing two different pairs of connections so as to reverse the direction of current flow.  


Pocket Dynamo Torch

Circa 1920


Bulb missing. Made by a French manufacturer but markings are unreadable.

From B. Davies collection.


Electrostatic Cut-Out















By Mr. I. C. Jones. 1925

An electrostatic cut-out for use in charging condensers for spark photography. With typed descriptions and photographs.



Late 1800's.
A limelight for a projection lantern. An oxyhydrogen flame is directed onto a cylinder of lime (calcium oxide) to produce light. The lime is slowly rotated by an operator to expose a fresh surface tot the flame. Historically used as stage lighting in the 1860’s and 70’s.


Gyroscope Top

By Newton & Co. 1910.


This piece is missing its case and other accessories. Used to demonstrate gyroscopic motion.




Wet Cell

By Robt. W. Paul.


Wet cells such as this one were used in laboratories for the calibration of voltmeters as they produce a very stable voltage.







Casio AL-8 Calculator

By Casio. 1975


The AL-8 was the first hand-held calculator that was able to display and compute fractions and times. These calculators run on 2x AA batteries.




PIC Slide Rule No. 241





By British Thornton. 1967

This slide rule has many different scales for the working of various different calculations.


Davis-Grinstead Complex Calculator No. 663378






Circa 1900

This slide rule, from the B. Davis collection may have been developed by Mr Davies. Slide Rules were used as early calculators.


Scientific Typewriter

A Hammon brand type writer, unusually when the keys are pressed it does not have the usual lever print action of a regular type writer. Instead when a key is pressed a central cylinder where the letters are mounted rotates and the paper is pressed into it with a lever beind the paper. The  type writer includes both greek and latin alphabets as well as calculus notation.




By Becker

A collection of 5 glass hydrometers with mercury weights, used to measure the relative density of a liquid substance.




A collection of hydrometers of various scales and sizes. Used to measure the specific gravity, or relative density of a liquid.






Fletcher’s Patent Thermo-Hydrometers

This collection of six hydrometers comes complete in case.




Specific Gravity Bottle

Similar to a hydrometer, this instrument was used to measure the specific gravity/relative density of a substance. This piece comes in a chamois-leather lined box with a brass counterweight.











By William and Samuel Jones, Early-Mid 1800’s

An old style wood protractor with an ivory face and a wooden dial, made by the Jones brothers.



Object Micrometre Box

By C. Zeiss, Jena, Germany

An empty case for a 0.01mm micrometre made by Zeiss.



Circa 1890


A heliostat with clockwork mechanism missing. Possibly used by Prof. Morgan Lewis in lecture demonstration around 1900.



Kew Observatory Certified, 1910


Used to measure the angle between an astronomical object (traditionally the sun) and the horizon. When coupled with an accurate timepiece, the sextant can determine the latitude of the user and such the sextant was used heavily for navigation.


Galvanometer Lamp and Scale

Circa 1890


A table for use with a galvanometer. Both the paraffin lamp and lens system are missing from this piece.


Glass Bulb










Circa 1850

This glass bulb was used as part of experiments to determine the density of air, by allowing air to be drawn in and out of it.


Bismuth Spiral








By Hartmann and Braun, Frankfurt, 1890

This piece of apparatus uses bismuth wire that has been wound in a spiral for use as a magnetic field sensor. The resistance of the wire is proportional to the magnetic field strength.


Campbell’s Constant Inductance Rheostat No. R 180

By Cambridge Instrument Co. Ltd. 1920


A rheostat is a device with a variable resistance. Here, wound copper wire has its contact length varied and the resistance of the rheostat depends on this length.


Wheatstone-Type Rheostat No. 4922








By W. G. Pye. 

A rheostat is a device with a variable resistance. Here, wound copper wire has its contact length varied and the resistance of the rheostat depends on this length. This model is based off the one developed by Wheatstone.




Weissenberg Rheogoniometer

By Sangamo Weston Controls Limited

Dating from the 1960's, this rotational rheometer uses a rotating cylinder to measure the torque exerted on the cylinder by a liquid sample in order to determine the viscosity of the sample.






Boys’ Radio-Micrometer

By Cambridge Instrument Co., 1920


This instrument was used to detect infrared radiation (heat) and is said to be able to detect the radiation from a candle, 1 mile away.




Drum Potentiometer










By British Telegraph Manufactory, Ltd. London. 1900

Similar to a rheostat, a potentiometer is a resistor that acts as a voltage divider for the measurement of electric potential.


Pocket Voltmeter

Circa 1910

A pocket voltmeter made of iron and marked with the initials B. D.

From the B. Davies collection.




Moving-Iron Ammeter No. 1803

By Easton Anderson and Goolden Ltd. 1905

Evershed’s Patent ammeter for measuring current.




Demonstration Ammeter No. 92983



This ammeter appears to be for demonstration purposes. It allows the user to view the meters components when in use.




Moving-Iron Ammeter No. 10115

By Crompton. 1894


This ammeter was part of the U. C. W generating plant that was set-up in 1891.



Moving-Iron Voltmeter No. 6975

By Crompton. 1894


This voltmeter may have been part of the switchboard of the old University generating plant.



Gravity Ammeter

By W. T Goolden & Co. London. 1905


This instrument was part of the switchboard in the original physics lecture room and was later moved up to the large lecture room in King Street. It was used to measure the current in the 110 volt circuit.


Moving-Iron Meter Needle

Circa 1900

This is the needle from a large moving-iron meter. It is marked B. D

From the B. Davies collection.



Torsion Balance Ammeter No. 2000A

By Siemens Bros. & Co. 1890

Patent No. 766884. This is a very heavy instrument with a broken glass screen. It has a scale of 510 amps.


Ammeter No. 63059

By F. R. Butt

This ammeter bears a Physics Dept. label and such was probably used in laboratory experiments within the department.


Ayrton-Perry Twisted Strip Voltmeter No. 27

By Acme Electric Works, Ferdinand St., London. 1890


Used to measure potential difference, this piece is complete in case, with certificate.



Ampere Meter No. 5131

By Muirhead & Co., Westminster. 1900


This ammeter from the B. Davies collection may be of Mr Davies own patent.



Electrolytic Ampere-Hour Meter No. 481146

By R. M Co. 1920

This instrument was used for metering D. C supplies up until 1940.


Electrolytic Ampere-Hour Meter No. 589213

By R. M Co. 1920

Used for metering D. C supplies, this piece differs from No. 481146 as its second mercury reservoir is siphoned from the first.




Vulcan Hour Meter

By Vulcan Works, Thomas St. 1890


This is an early Aubert type instrument for metering electricity. The clock runs when electricity is flowing. Only suitable for a fixed load.


Avon Clock Meter No. C7701

Circa 1910

This ampere-hour meter has a very elaborate mechanism for metering electricity. Two electrically driven pendulums with different periods, drive the dials.






Air Meter No. L 1972

By Griffin and George Ltd.

This instrument is in case with instructions and correction card. Air Meters are used to measure air velocity.


Universal Avometer Model 8

By AVO Ltd. 1951.


Avometers are multimeters that measure voltage, AC and DC current and resistance. AVO stands for "amps", "volts" and "ohms".


Weston Frequency Meter Model S105 No. AE27515

By Sangamo Weston. 1955.

A deflection type frequency meter for measuring the frequency of an AC signal between 95-135 volts.







Circa 1830

A Chondrometer is a type of steelyard balance used to measure the density of corn in lb/bushel. The load is placed on the shorter arm, with a counterweight sliding along on the long arm to balance the load and give a value.



Circa 1890

A small balance scale with a set of weights. The hanging strings are missing.





Precision Scale

W & J. George and Becker. 1950’s

This set of scales is for the precise measurement of weight. The original weights are missing.






Assay Balance

By L. Oerting, London.

These scales were produced to be incredibly accurate and were used extensively in laboratories and chemists.