As luck would have it, or perhaps as some dedicated balance historians would have
it, a few things fell into place:
Hans Jenemann had photographed several similar Nemetz balances, the pictures now
being part of our archive collection. He had also researched into the history of
Josef Nemetz as a balance maker (as part of his treatise on the Vienna makers).
Ritzo had previously scanned and archived several of Nemetz’s catalogues and managed
to locate another one on an ebook website.
The Museu de Ciência also had scanned Nemetz catalogues which were made accessible
Based on all this I wrote an article for Equilibrium (the quarterly magazine of ISASC)
in which I showed the pictures of all these beauties, and compared their features
Click on the links for a view of the Nemetz balances and details of the museums.
The Bochkoltz Substitution Balance
Not too long after rounding off the write-up on Nemetz another amazing balance was
brought to Ritzo’s attention. (All the wires of the worldwide balance network seem
to go through his “node”.)
The Physics Department of the University of Lyon in France contacted our Swiss friend
(once again) with respect to an old analytical balance they wanted to identify, and
the enquiry was quickly sent to Ritzo. He recognised it immediately as possibly the
only surviving example of a very early substitution balance designed by W C Bochkoltz,
in 1833, and probably made by Deleuil in Paris soon afterwards.
Once again this balance had been written about by Hans Jenemann, including the reproduction
of a drawing from an 1833 paper. But no known survivors had been reported, up to
We are very proud to be able to show these pictures here, and we are very grateful
to Lyon University for preserving this unique artefact.
The significance of this find becomes clear when one considers that the single-pan
substitution balance ended up displacing pretty much all other designs of mechanical
analytical balances from 1946 onwards. In fact it was, from the 60’s onwards, the
only serious contender in the market until the availability of electronic balances
signalled the end of the line for mechanics.
To the casual observer it looks like the models introduced after WW2 had no forerunners
at all. Not so! Young Mr Bochkoltz - he was only 23 years old at the time - designed
a very near equivalent over 100 years earlier. For very good reasons which are well
understood and documented it didn’t catch on. This was no fault of his (technology
just hadn’t advanced far enough), and we should spare a moment in commemorating his
admirable foresight at such an early stage.
Click on the links for pictures of the balance and the drawing from the 1833 paper.
A full write-up was produced for Equilibrium, as above.