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Ink Polygraph (Hawksley and Sons)


This device is contained in a case lined with purple velvet. The case contains several parts:
– Two leather straps with buckles are attached to a small brass aperture with a an adjustable knob and a small protruding pipe.
– A small metal dish, mostly circular with one straight side, has a small hole in the centre to which is attached a small pipe.
– A small metal pipe with a metal clip affixed to its body.
– A square metal frame that holds a rotating metal cylinder.
– A small metal dish with a hole in the centre is attached to a small rubber tube with an egg-shaped rubber pump at the end.
– A circular metal base that has a brass arm and knob attached to a protruding tube.
– A small metal plate that has a small knob protruding from one side. The opposite side is encrusted with a clear orange residue.
– A metal enclosure, containing a clockwork mechanism. The enclosure has an upper rounded rounded face. A square setting is attached to one of its long sides; a flat setting is attached to the other side. On the top is set a small axle with three wheels. A thin strip of metal is attached to the body of the box at one end and to the axle at the other. A movable pin protrudes from the top of the device through a square hole. A metal knob is affixed to the second flat end.

Accession Number: 2013.psy.151

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Metal, leather, velvet, rubber


On the inside of the box: “Hawksley & Sons Oxford St. London”.
On the piece with the straps: “Hawksley London”, “8”.
On the square frame with the cylinder: “1”.
On the small pipe with clamp: “6”, “VIIII”
On the rubber pump: “KODAK”.
On the metal base: “HAWKSLEY 357, Oxford Street London”, “Hawksley London” “8”.

Dimensions (cm):

Box: Height = 9, Length = 15, Width = 26


This is a clockwork-driven instrument that records venous and arterial pulse from two locations on the body. Information is recorded in ink onto an unspooling roll of paper. It was developed to diagnose heart disease.


The rubber pump has broken off its pipe, and all the pieces exhibit signs of tarnishing. The box also appears to have had a leather handle that is missing.

Associated Instruments:


Hawksley and Sons Limited., London, UK.

Date of Manufacture: Early 20th c.


University of Toronto Psychology Department

Note that this item, previously listed as “unidentified”, was identified by Dr. Hugo Rosa in an email on 29 October, 2023.

Additional Information and References:

Sir Henry Wellcome’s Museum Collection at the Science Museum in London contains an example of this instrument. The corresponding catalogue entry shows the instrument in its operating configuration and contains valuable historical information on its development.

Science Museum Group. James Mackenzie’s first polygraph, United Kingdom, 1906-1910. A55288 Pt1Science Museum Group Collection Online. Accessed 8 January 2024.

See also:

James Mackenzie,(1908). Diseases of the heart. London: Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press. pp. 68-69.

William R. Jack (1920). Wheeler’s handbook of medicine. Edinburgh: E. & S. Livingstone, p. 250.

Historical Notes:

This item was developed by the British hearth Surgeon ,Dr James Mackenzie (1853-1925), in 1906. (See the Science Museum Group entry cited above.)