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Series of High Frequency Steel Cylinders

Koenig Acoustical · Physics

Three piece set consisting of two wooden bases: one with 15 steel cylinders (object, the other with 7 steel cylinders (object Cylinders are suspended by fine threads in a series along the wooden boards. Object a) is accompanied by a hammer with a steel head ( Each steel cylinder bears marking indicating its musical note when struck (in an older French tradition: Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si) and numerical measurement (measured in “VS”). Next to each cylinder on the wooden base are labels written in ink indicating the frequency (measured in Hz, which is half of VS).

Accession Number:

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Steel, wood

Markings: is marked “RUDOLPH KOENIG À PARIS” Each cylinder is marked with a stylized Monogram “RK”. Other markings on the cylinders, in order from smallest to largest: “UT10 615536 VS”; “S19 61040 VS; LA9 54613,3VS; SOL9 49152 VS; FA9 43690,6 VS; MI9 40960 VS; RÉ9 36864 VS; UT9 32768 VS; SI8 30520 VS; LA8 27306,6 VS; SOL8 24576 VS; FA8 21845,3 VS; MI8 20480 VS; RÉ8 18432 VS; UT8 16384 VS; SI7 15260 VS; LA7 13653,3 VS; SOL7 12288 VS; FA7 10922,6 VS; RÉ7 9216 VS; UT7 8192 VS”. Labels with frequencies (in Hz) written in pen next to cylinders, from smallest to largest: “32,768; 30,520; 27,306; 24,576; 21,845; 20,450; 18,432; 4,094; 4,608; 5,120; 5,462; 6,144; 6,827; 7,630; 8,192; 9,216; 10,240; 10,923; 12,283; 13,654; 15,260; 16,354”.

Dimensions (cm): 8x20x48 8×15.5×25


Accoustical demonstrations and experiments


Good/fair: Some of the strings suspending cylinders have loosened so the cylinders are crooked. Cylinders are in overall good appearance, but corrosion is coming through on all of them, and there are some occasional rust spots. Damage to the base board of 2011.586.b perhaps due to previous storage conditions or poor suspension of cylinders, as they’ve clearly worn away the lacquer of the wood and etched lines in it.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Rudolph Koenig Paris

Date of Manufacture: Ca. Late 19th Century


University of Toronto Physics Department

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes:

This set appears in the publication Altered Sensations: Rudolph Koenig’s Accoustical Workshop in Nineteenth-Century Paris by David Pantalony (Springer Netherlands, 2009). Pantalony notes: “These cylinders demonstrated the highest threshold of hearing and beyond. They were the first means by which Koenig developed high-frequencies, before the developed wasy to make high-frequency tuning forks. In fact, he had to use these cylinders to expand the range of his early tuning-fork tonometer that was displayed at the 1867 Paris Exposition… The last cylinider and the shortest, “UT10 65536 v.s.” (32,768 Hz) is well above human hearing (roughly 18,000 Hz).” Pantalony goes on to note: “The frequency is proportional to the inverse square of the length (if diameter remains constant). The slight differences between the cylinders reveals the time-consuming, precision workmanship that went into these instruments”(Pantalony 2009: 211).