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A heliostat throws sunlight where it might be used for photography or scientific observations. This example has an octangular mirror (13 cm x 7.3 cm), a clockwork mechanism, and tri-leg base with leveling screws. The inscription on the clock housing reads “J. T. Silbermann Invteur / Fait par J. Duboscq à Paris” and “No. 89.” That on the clock movement reads “PAUL GARNIER PARIS 4051.”
Jean Thiebaut Silbermann (1806-1865), a physics demonstrator at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in in Paris, designed the form in 1843. J. B. F. Soleil made the first examples. Jules Duboscq, his son-in-law and successor, was still offering these instruments in 1880s.
Ref: J. T. Silbermann, “Rapport fait à l’Académie Royale des Sciences sur un nouvel heliostat,” Annales de Chimie et de Physique 10 (1844): 298-306.
Maison Jules Duboscq, Historique & Catalogue de tous les Instruments d’Optique Supérieure Appliqués aux Sciences et à l’Industrie (Paris, 1885), pp. 3-4.
Currently not on view
date made
Duboscq, Jules
place made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
overall: 12 in; 30.48 cm
overall: 15 7/16 in x 10 1/4 in x 9 1/4 in; 39.21125 cm x 26.035 cm x 23.495 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Weston College
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History