This is a brass direct-vision spectroscope with a five-prism assembly. The center section of the tube is covered with brown leather. The “J. G. Hofmann / Rue de Buci, 3, Paris.” inscription refers to a German instrument maker who specialized in instruments of this sort.
A note in the box reads: “This Spectroscope belongs to my friend L. M. Rutherfurd Esq. who lent it to me when he was about to go abroad in 1872. To be returned to Mr. R_ T. P. . . .” Lewis M. Rutherfurd was an American lawyer who made early and important contributions to astrophysics. He showed several items at the Universal Exposition held in Paris in 1867, and may have met Hofmann at that time.
Ref. D.J. Warner, “Direct Vision Spectroscopes,” Rittenhouse7 (1993): 40-48.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
late 1860s
Hofmann, Jean Georges
box: 12 1/2 in; 31.75 cm
place made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Richard O'Neill
Additional Media

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