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made in Florence in Italy

Postcard of Thermometer.
© National Museums Scotland


This thermometer was made around 1665 by the Accademia del Cimento in Florence in Italy. One of a group of original 17th-century instruments discovered in 1828, it was given to J. D. Forbes, Professor of Natural Philosophy in Edinburgh, in 1833.

The instrument is calibrated from 1 to 50 degrees on the so-called Florentine scale by black and white glass beads fused to the stem. The liquid it contains is spirit.

The Accademia del Cimento - the 'Academy of experiments' - was one of the earliest scientific societies. It met in Florence between 1657 and 1667. It avoided work on astronomical topics because this raised controversial issues in the Catholic church.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-102-733-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1975.62
Date: Around 1665
c. 1660
Subject: 22. PHYSICS, Heat (Departmental Classification)
Who: Accademia del Cimento, Florence (Maker)
Professor Forbes (Owner)
Where: Italy, Florence
Description: Spirit thermometer, 1 - 50 degrees Florentine, made by members of the Accademia del Cimento, Florence, Italy, c. 1660
  • For the surviving glassware of the Accademia del Cimento, see Miniati, Mara, Museo di Storia della Scienza [Firenze] Catalogo, Florence: 1991, pp 132-47 
  • Middleton, Knowles, A History of the Thermometer and its uses in Meteorology. Baltimore, Maryland: 1966, pp 32-5 
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