Norremberg Polariscope

Norremberg Polariscope

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Johann Gottlieb Christian Nörremberg (1787-1862) was a German professor of physics who visited Paris in 1830, met scientists interested in polarization, and designed a fairly simple device for studying the phenomena. Nörremberg’s device was described at a scientific meeting in Paris in May 1833. An example made by J. B. F. Soleil was lauded in 1834. And the form, though with many minor variations, soon became a standard piece of apparatus used in laboratories and lecture rooms around the world.
This example has circular mirror at the bottom. The vertical brass rods at either side hold a magnifying lens, an unsilvered rectangular glass mirror moveable about a horizontal axis, a moveable glass stage, and a Nichol prism analyzer at the top. The square wooden base has a drawer to hold extra parts. It was probably made around 1870 when the University of Santa Clara, in California, purchased a lot of scientific equipment. The “J. Duboscq à Paris” inscription is that of Jules Duboscq (1816-1886), an important optical instrument maker who had apprenticed with Soleil.
Ref: “M. Hachette présente l’appareil de polarization que M. Nörremberg, professeur de physique, a imaginé, et qu’il a communiqué à plusieurs savans pendant le séjour qu’il fit à Paris en juillet 1830,” Nouveau Bulletin des Sciences par la Société Philomatique (May 4, 1833): 86-87.
Notice des Produits de l’Industrie Française (Paris, 1834), pp. 61-62.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Norremberg polariscope
date made
around 1870
between 1845 and 1862
place made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
overall: 13 in; 33.02 cm
overall; polariscope: 19 1/8 in x 7 3/8 in x 7 1/4 in; 48.5775 cm x 18.7325 cm x 18.415 cm
overall; parts in box: 1 5/8 in x 7 in x 4 5/8 in; 4.1275 cm x 17.78 cm x 11.7475 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
University of Santa Clara
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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