I'm a Spanish Physics undergrad, and I was writing a report on an experiment we did on the lab, in which we had to measure a solid's density using the so-called Westphal balance (aka Mohr balance, and in Spanish, Mohr-Westphal balance). After doing a little research on the internet, in both Spanish and English languages, I've encountered no more in the references on the history of the balance than the mention of Karl Friedrich Mohr as the inventor of the instrument, here, among other sites, and the fact that Westphal was one who improved the usage of the balance. I was capable to find the latter only here (second sentence):

Posteriormente introdujo Westphal ciertas modificaciones empleando unas pesas cuyas masas guardan una determinada relación entre sí y a su vez con la masa de un flotador cilíndrico de vidrio en cuyo interior hay colocado un termómetro.

and there's no references in the webpage of second link.

So I'm missing a few things:

  1. Who is Westphal, because I was unable to find a person behind this name.
  2. How exactly did contributed Mohr and Westphal to the development of the balance? There's practically no data on the web.
  3. Does somebody know anything by chance about the history of the instrument? Or does someone know where should I try to do the research?
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The 1882 volume of New Remedies (p. 276) mentions the Westphal balance, noting that "ordinary Mohr balance is not always delicate enough". There are two references there, but unfortunately they do not provide details on Westphal either. $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    May 3, 2017 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


Quoth H. R. Jenemann, Die Geschichte der Dämpfung an der Laboratoriumswaage (1997, p. 240):

In 1879, Georg Westphal filed a patent in Celle for a scale which was distinguished by various innovations and featured a similar brush lock19. With this special scale, the scale carrier had no connection to the beam of the scale; it could swing freely about its own axis, and had the braking brush at its lower end. (...)

19. Georg Westphal: Neuerungen an Waagen. Patentschrift des Kaiserlichen Patentamtes, No. 8975, patented in the German Reich from September 4, 1879. On Westphal’s history in Celle, see Hans R. Jenemann: Die Waagenkonstruktionen von Georg Westphal. In: Westphal Mechanik-Augenoptik (Hrsg.): 125 Jahre 1860-1985 Westphal-Mechanik/Westphal-Augenoptik. Celle 1985, pp. 35-45.


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