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Hipp Chronoscope (Peyer & Favager)


A large brass and glass instrument mounted on four classical columns that are attached to a wooden base. There are four terminals on the far side of the base between the bases of the two far columns. The instrument is a complex geared clock mechanism and is housed under a glass dome. The clockwork consists of two dials, one for seconds, and 10ths, the other for 100ths and 1000ths.

The clock is regulated by a vibrating “tongue” connected to a clutch, which in turn connect to electromagnets at the back of the instrument. A large brass cylindrical weight is suspended below the instrument, between the four columns. A second smaller weight is suspended from two arms that protrude from the left side of the instrument. This weight hangs between the two left columns.

Accession Number: 2012.psy.82

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Brass, Metal, Glass


Dimensions (cm): Height = 57, Width = 21, Length = 26


A precision timing device. Used for reaction time experiments.

Condition: Excellent

Associated Instruments:


Peyer & Favager, co. Neuchatel, Switzerland

Date of Manufacture: 1892


Dept. of Psychology, University of Toronto

Additional Information and References:

1) Edgell, Beatrice, and W. Legge Symes. 1906. The Wheatstone-Hipp Chronoscope. Its Adjustments, Accuracy, and Control. The British Journal of Psychology. II : 58-88.

2) Schraven, Thomas. 2003. The Hipp Chronoscope. The Virtual Laboratory: Essays and Resources on the Experimentalization of Life (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin);: 1-56. (Archived document from March 27, 2016)

3) Titchener, Edward B. 1915. A Beginner’s Psychology. New York: MacMillan. Pp. 236-9.

Historical Notes:

Charles Wheatstone developed the chronoscope in 1842 to determine the velocity of projectiles. In 1848 Mathias Hipp improved Wheatstone’s design, making the movement of the clockwork more uniform. [Edgell and Symer, 1906]