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antique balance 
One of the vintage balances up for sale. Photo by Harvey Clars

Hundreds of antique scientific instruments go on the block July 27-28

25 July 2002

By Bonnie Azab Powell, Public Affairs

BERKELEY - Got a passion for potentiometers? Do antique balances make you lose your equilibrium?

Grab your auction paddle. Vintage equipment from UC Berkeley's physics department will be up for sale this weekend, July 27-28, at the Harvey Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland. More than 150 different lots of voltmeters, galvanometers, traveling microscopes and other testing and demonstration devices — most of them beautifully crafted of brass or Bakelite, with heavy-duty wooden cases — will pass under the gavel. (See the list of scientific equipment for sale.)

A late June auction of 15 items unearthed from LeConte Hall's attic confirmed that science buffs can be serious collectors, too. The preview sale brought in $3,240 total, with the top sellers an oversized demonstration slide rule ($450) and a Beckers Sons cased balance ($600) like the one above. The physics department will use the proceeds from the auctions to buy new equipment for its undergraduate laboratory.