Humboldt State University

Robert A. Paselk Scientific Instrument Museum

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Student Analytical Balance

Voland & Sons (inc)

Humboldt S-T-C; c.1926

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The analytical balance is the most fundamental tool in the chemists arsenal. It is used to determine the masses of, or in other words the amount of stuff in, objects or samples. The balance is a comparison instrument. It compares standard or known weights placed on the left-hand pan to unknown samples or objects placed on the right-hand pan. The current instrument also has a rider (a 10 mg bent wire weight which is moved along the graduated scale on the top of the beam) to measure small (1-10 mg) differences in mass. The glass case is to protect the balance from drafts while samples are being weighed, as well to keep the delicate mechanisms free from dirt.

According to MacNevin, Voland and Sons was established in 1888 in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Early descriptions of the balance and its use are provided below:


The balance has a 6 1/2" aluminum beam graduated in white figures against a black strip on the right side only in 10 mg by 0.2 mg with a 10 mg wire rider. The balance has knife edges on planes for the beam and both pans. The rider carrier is a simple hook on a brass rod sliding through a brass tube attached through the wood case on the right side of the balance. The beam is supported by a simple polished brass column on a square brass base plate bolted to the slate base of the balance. There is a white plastic scale attached to the front of the brass base plate graduated in red and labeled: voland & sons / (inc) / new rochelle,n.y. / patented. There is a single bullseye level behind the column. The release mechanism operates on the beam only (vertical lift type). The pans are arrested through a second knob mounted below the heavy (3/4") slate base, 16 5/8 x 9 1/2". The aluminum pans are supported by nickel plated brass bows and double hook hangers. The balance rests on a single rear post and two leveling screws operating on solid brass rod protruding from either side of the front of the slate base. The balance is enclosed in a glazed mahogany case, 15 1/2w x 14 1/2h x 9 1/2", with a single sliding door at the front. The case is stamped 21281 on the upper front right corner, and there is an oval brass tag on the top front right corner stamped: HUMBOLDT S-T-C / 2083.
The brass leveling feet have been stripped and refinished with shellac, the brass base plate cleaned and refinished with shellac, the remainder of the instrument and case merely cleaned and waxed or oiled as appropriate.


MacNevin, William Marshall, The Analytical Balance, Its Care and Use, Handbook Publishers, Inc., Sandusky, Ohio, (1951), pg. xi.

The Chemical Balance at Humboldt

HSTC Instrument Collection

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HSTC (1921-34)
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© R. Paselk
Last modified 30 August 2010