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American Optical (AO) Abbe Spencer Refractometer

Jowlabar · Chemical Engineering

This object has a three sided iron alloy base. On the base is a track which mounts a small frame holding a metal plate. The metal plate rotates 360 degrees within its frame. Beside the track is a primary arm which extends vertically.

The primary arm holds a double prism box above the metal plate. The prism box has four ports extending from it.

Attached to the other side of the primary arm there is a secondary arm which extends vertically, currently set at a roughly 45 degree angle. The secondary arm holds a lens with eyepiece and dials. This is suspended above the prism box.

On the other side of the secondary arm there is a convex rule. The convex rule has a lens, supported by a third arm, which travels freely along its radius.

Accession Number: 2018.che.134

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Iron Alloy, Aluminum, Glass.


Located on the secondary arm between the lens and convex rule: A shield shape with the letters “AO” inside it. Below that, it is written “Spencer 1966”.

Located on the third arm, etched by hand: “6-2-10-11-4”

Dimensions (cm): Height = 20, Width = 15, Length = 26.


To determine the refractive index of a material.


Good: Base has some rust, plates and lens move freely, prism box opens freely.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: American Optical Spencer

Date of Manufacture: 1966


This artifact was acquired by the UTSIC collection from the University of Toronto Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry on June 15, 2018.

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes:


  • Donated to UTSIC