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Klett-Summerson Photoelectric Colorimeter

  • Manufactured by Klett Manufacturing Company, Inc.
    Made in New York
  • 8.5 in. H x 6.125 in. W x 17.750 in. D
    Metal, glass, plastic, stainless steel
  • On display in Making Modernity
  • Gift of Sandra Pfeiffer
  • 2003.004.004


This photoelectric colorimeter was designed by W. H. Summerson of Cornell University and introduced around 1939. The instrument includes an internal galvanometer and potentiometer; this specific model is designed for general colorimetric determinations.

Colorimeters are used to match and measure colors. They rely on psychophysical characteristics like hue or tint, color saturation or purity, and brightness. Photoelectric colorimeters use photocells, color filters, and amplifiers in order to provide precise determinations of color.

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Arnold O. Beckman

CHF’s Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry was started with a generous grant from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 1987.



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