Electric Chimes
   The electric chime is an oscillator. A large bell, connected to ground, is surrounded by a series of smaller bells connected to a high electric potential. Swinging balls on the ends of insulating strings are attracted to the high potential, pick up a charge, and are repelled toward ground. There they give up their charge and the process repeats itself.
   "Chime of five Bells ... It consists of a swelled glass pillar, on the top of which is cemented a cap, bearing a brass cross; the four [here eight] outer bells are affixed to the ends of this by wires, and the clappers are suspended from the middle by silk cords; the middle bell communicates with the ground by the mahogany foot which supports the whole. To use, the cross is connected by a chain with the prime conductor [of the electrostatic machine], when a pleasing chime will commence. ... Price. $4.00"  From Pike's Illustrated Catalogue of Optical, Mathematical and Philosophical Instruments. Vol. I (Benjamin Pike, Pr., New York, 18560 pp 273-274

   This example is in the museum at the University of Mississippi.

 The electric chime at the left was at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine when I photographed it in 1979. 

   At the right is an electric chime in the collection at St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana. 

"The Perpetual Chime. Soon after the invention of the  voltaic pile, Mr. B.M. Foster discovered that when a sufficiently-extensive series was put together, its electric power was sufficient to produce a sort of chime, by the motion of a small brass ball between two balls, insulated and connected with the opposite extremities of the column. He constructed a series of 1500 pairs [something over 1.5 KV], and by its agency kept a little bell-ringing apparatus in constant activity for a considerable length of time. ... A friend of ours has one of 1200 pairs of plates, which has been going for three years when we saw it." From George W. Francis, Electrical Experiments (J. Allen, London, 1855), pg 18. 
   The chime at the left (above) is at the United States Military Academy at West Point; the one at the right is at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. The apparatus is of French manufacture.

  At the right is what appears to be a home-built version of the electric chime, probably built in the 1950s or 1960s in the well-equipped shop of the physics department of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York.

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