Journal of Seismology

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 315–343

Horizontal pendulum development and the legacy of Ernst von Rebeur-Paschwitz

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10950-011-9272-5

Cite this article as:
Fréchet, J. & Rivera, L. J Seismol (2012) 16: 315. doi:10.1007/s10950-011-9272-5


Horizontal pendulum development was paramount in the birth of modern instrumental seismology and solid-earth tide study. This paper presents a revised history starting in the first part of the nineteenth century and culminating with Rebeur-Paschwitz’s masterpiece in its latter part. The first stage began with the invention of the horizontal pendulum by Lorenz Hengler in 1832. He was followed by several, mostly independent, inventors during the three decades from the 1850s to the 1870s, in particular Friedrich Zöllner in 1869–1872 who popularized this instrument. With the exception of an instrument designed by Alexander Gerard in 1851, all these preliminary pendulums were suspended with two wires. Slightly different forms of horizontal pendulums were invented in Japan by James Ewing and Thomas Gray in the early 1880s, based on bracket or conical suspensions. The merit of demonstrating the outstanding potential of high-sensitivity horizontal pendulums completely relies on the work of Ernst von Rebeur-Paschwitz between 1886 and 1895. He successively developed three models of pendulums, in collaboration with three different manufacturers: the Fecker pendulum in 1886, the Repsold pendulum in 1888, from which six copies were produced, and finally, the Stückrath two-component model in 1894, built in three copies. Based on the scrutiny of a large number of previously unexploited archives, the detailed chronology of Rebeur-Paschwitz’s achievements is presented. Archive, and in situ explorations allowed us to discover five out of the six original copies of the first Rebeur-Paschwitz’s Repsold pendulum previously unknown or thought to be lost.


Horizontal pendulum Historical seismology Rebeur-Paschwitz Repsold Stückrath 

Supplementary material

10950_2011_9272_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.4 mb)
ESM 1(PDF 1.43 MB)
10950_2011_9272_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (19 kb)
ESM 2(PDF 19.2 KB)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Physique du Globe de StrasbourgStrasbourg University/EOST, CNRSStrasbourgFrance

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