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Helium Discharge Tube

Unidentified · Physics

Two roughly spherical glass bulbs are connected by a long straight narrow tube. The two bulbs have protruding bulbous ends that are fitted into holes cut in the ends of a wooden support shaped like a flattened, squared u. The long base of the ‘u’ bracket runs the length of the narrow tube and bulbs, providing rigidity for the delicate tube. Attached to the bracket on the outside is a metal rod attached to a hollow tube section with a screw tightener that would allow the apparatus to be attached to a rod.

The bulbs are dark in colour, variously grey, brown and blue on their interior surfaces. At each end of each glass bulb where the bulbs fit through the wooden support, there are wires sticking out which connect to a metal terminal attached to the wooden block nearby.

The word “HELIUM” has been written by hand on a paper label attached to the top of the outside of the wooden bracket.

Accession Number:

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials:

Glass, Wood, Metal: Iron Alloy, Metal: Copper Alloy?


Written by hand on a paper label attached to the top of the outside of the wooden bracket: “HELIUM”

Dimensions (cm): Height = 38, Length = 23, Width = 8


Possibly, the examination and investigation of helium gas under certain conditions.


Very Good: The wooden bracket is in very good condition, with the varnish surface without significant nicks or scratches. The glass bulbs and tube between them are entirely intact. The darkening of the bulbs appears to be an effect of use. The metal attachment has been painted, and the painted is chipped around the rim and around the knurled knob of the screw.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Locally made?

Date of Manufacture: Early 20th Century


Department of Physics, University of Toronto

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: