C. F. Palmer, Ltd

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C. F. Palmer, Ltd was an independent manufacturer of scientific instruments, mostly in the field of physiology. Since 1987 it has been a subsidiary of Harvard Apparatus.[1]

The company was founded in London in 1891 by the English mechanical engineer and bicycle maker Charles Fielding Palmer (1864-1938).[2] It described itself as making "Research and Students' Apparatus for Physiology, Pharmacology, Psychology, Bacteriology, Phonetics, Botany, etc."[2] It specialized, however, in equipment for the relatively young science of physiology. [3] As a result of good workmanship and excellent contacts with scientists, the company became an important supplier of physiology research equipment in the British Empire until ca. 1950.[3]

Palmer manufactured instruments like the kymograph, invented by the German physiologist Carl Ludwig in 1847, the Stromuhr (another design by Ludwig) for measuring the rate of bloodflow and a 'dotting machine', designed by William McDougall to measure and record levels of fatigue.[2] From the 1930s onward, the company catalogue also mentioned equipment for research in psychometrics. At some time (its records were lost[3]) the company became a "Ltd". In the 1960s and 1970s it stuck to mostly electromechanical devices in an increasingly electronic age and it lost some of its importance as an instrument maker.[2] It was renamed PalmerBioscience and in 1987 it was acquired by Harvard Apparatus.[4]

Both the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford and the Science Museum in London own instruments by Palmer.[2][5]


  1. ^ About Us, website Harvard Apparatus, retrieved 8 september 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sphaera, website Museum of the History of Science (Oxford), retrieved 8 september 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Sykes, A. H.; "A short history of C F Palmer (London) Ltd, physiological instrument makers." in: Journal of Medical Biography, 1995, vol. 3, p. 225-231. Only the introduction page is (used and) publicly available, through jmb.com. Retrieved 8 september 2014.
  4. ^ C F Palmer (London) Limited, Science Museum (London) website, retrieved 8 september 2014.
  5. ^ Electrical switch for physiological use, London, England, 1920-1940, Science Museum (London) website, retrieved 8 september 2014.