Physics courses taught today (2001) tend to stick pretty closely to pure physics. But the Natural Philosophy course of the nineteenth century often included applied physics and engineering in the curriculum. One clear example is the study of steam engines, a subject of considerable practical importance to the educated man of the era.
Apparatus catalogues, especially those of French apparatus makers, often included a few mechanical motions, such as this example of Hooke's Joint. Robert Hooke, known to generations of students for his studies of elasticity, described this "Universal Joynt" for "communicating a round motion through an irregularly bent way" in 1676. This particular configuration is still used in the drive shafts of front-engine/rear wheel drive cars and trucks.
The device is in the Garland Collection of Classical Physics Apparatus at Vanderbilt University, and was made by Deleuil of Paris.