A top-loading sample chamber tube, radiation shield and the vacuum shroud for interfacing a closed-cycle helium refrigerator for use with a vibrating sample magnetometer have been designed and fabricated. A lowest temperature of 12 K is achieved at the sample. The eddy current effects in the copper sample chamber tube are minimized by the use of an electrically insulating epoxy resin medium. The sample temperature is measured by a GaAlAs diode sensor attached on a sensor mount which is inserted into the sample zone and kept in helium atmosphere. The vibrations of the cryocooler's cold head are isolated from the vibrating sample magnetometer's head by incorporating a bellows. Using this facility the magnetic transitions of some rare earth elements have been measured and compared with the literature data. © 1998 IOP Publishing Ltd.