The School of Physics Museum

| Museum Home | Browse | Search | Random Entry |

Order by | Database Order | Item Name | Date Added |Order | Asc | Dec |

Diapason normal Tuning Forks. Set of 13 in wooden case.

In the early 1900s there was intense debate in Melbourne about the adoption of a standard pitch for orchestral use. At the time Australian orchestras were using one of four pitches based on both overseas and local constraints. Dame Nellie Melba was at the forefront of the debate. In an attempt to influence the direction of this debate she purchased and presented to the local Marshall-Hall orchestra a set of normal pitch or Diapason normal woodwind and brass instruments. In September 1906 the Victorian Minister of Education Mr Sanchse orderd a set of normal pitch tuning forks for the University. The tuning forks arrived in early 1908 and were placed in the hands of Professor Lyle in the Physics Laboratory. The forks are tuned to a1 =435 or Diapason normal also called low pitch or French pitchi. Note: It was not till 1953 that a1=440 was adopted as a standard by the ISO.

iThe Melba Gift Issues of Pitch in Melbourne in the early Twetieth Century. Simon Andrew Purtell Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Music University of Melbourne 2006

Konig's apparatus for the analysis of sound

Konig's Apparatus for the Analysis of Sound

As the name suggests, Konig’s apparatus is used in the analysis of sound. The apparatus consists of a series of Helmholtz resonators tuned to the upper harmonics of C. Each resonator is isolated by a diaphragm from a manometric flame. If a sound source contains a component equal to one of these frequencies the gas flame will vibrate in response. Viewing the gas flames via the rotating mirror will display which resonators have responded to the sound source.

Due to the existence in the Physics Museum’s archive of a catalogue from 1924, it is plausible that the apparatus was purchased by the School of Physics around this time. The item, which would have cost approximately £150 in its day, is thought to have been used for teaching purposes.

Although little is known of Konig himself, information about the manufacturer of the apparatus, E.Leybold’s Nachfolger, has survived. The German company began as a small business established by Ernst Leybold (1827-1907). The focus of this venture was foreign wines and items for pharmacists such as medicine glasses and scales. This narrow focus was expanded in 1854 when Leybold branched out to include ‘physical, pharmaceutical and chemical apparatuses’i . A few years before he sold his company, Leybold also incorporated glass blowing and a mechanical workshop into the business. It was Leybolds ‘manufacture of physical devices for use in teaching science and in the laboratory’ from which the company gained such a widespread reputationii .

Eli Schmidt and Otto Ladendorff renamed the company ‘E. Leybold's Nachfolger’ once they purchased it from Leybold in 1870. In 2005 the company, which was renamed again in 1987 to ‘Leybold Corporation’, concentrates on vacuum technology and educational equipment.

Jacqueline Eager
Student Projects Placement, Cultural Collections 2005

iLeybold Vacuum, 'Company Profile',, accessed 08.10.05.


Three Dimensional Object (requires Quicktime): 352-1.obj

History of object: Apparatus used for teaching in the school of Physics. Missing resonator believed to be removed by Dick Cherry for research purposes.

Country of manufacture: Germany


125Hz tuning fork with viewing slot attached to one prong. Housed in wooden box with swivel top

History of object: purchased from DSTO Maribyrnong

Country of manufacture: England

| Previous | Next |

Disclaimer | Privacy | A-Z Directory | Faculties & Departments

Created: 12 May 2003
Authorised by: Head, School of Physics
Maintained by: Museum Curator (pslyons @