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This object consists of a cylindrical disc piece mounted on an adjustable stand with a round base. In the cylindrical disc there is a small rectangular glass window. Inside, a wire is suspended from an inverted u-shape holder. The inclination of this can be adjusted by a slider on the top of the cylinder.

The cylindrical disc can be rotated on the stand. Directly below the cylindrical disc there is a knob attachment, and then another one below it on the stand.

Accession Number: 2017.psy.186

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Metal, Glass


On the disc: “PHONESLESCOPE NO. 2-13 1912 PAT’D DORSEY”

On the base of the stand: “PHONESLESCOPE”

On a fabric label stuck to the disc: “Do Not Touch”

Dimensions (cm): Height = 20.5cm Diameter= 10.5


To make visible sound or electricity in the form of a wave.

From Herbert Grove Dorsey’s description: “A tiny steel shaft… is mounted in jeweled bearings in front of a diaphragm, and any motion of the latter causes the shaft to rotate through a proportionate angle. A mirror on the shaft deflects a beam through twice this angle so that the motion of a spot of light gives a trace of the motion of diaphragm magnified from one thousand to twenty thousand times.” Dorsey, H. The Phonelescope. Journal of the Optical Society of America. Vol. 6, Issue 3, pp. 279-280 (1922)


Good. The surface of the instrument is somewhat scratched and dented. A fabric sticker has been applied to the edge of the disc.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Dorsey, Gloucester, N.Y.

Date of Manufacture: 1920s


Department of Psychology, University of Toronto

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: