Current meter, probably made by Alexander Adie & Son

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probably made in Edinburgh

Postcard of Current meter, probably made by Alexander Adie & Son.
© National Museums Scotland

Current meter, probably made by Alexander Adie & Son

Current meters such as this measure the flow of moving water. This brass example was made around 1850, probably by Alexander Adie & Son, scientific instrument makers based in Edinburgh. It is designed for shallow water.

This device, which has two linked visible dials in the meter, can record the rate of flow of tide in an estuary, or can ascertain the rate of a ship's speed.

The instrument is a development of Joseph Saxton's water current meter, first published in 1836, the mechanism of which was credited by Brewster to Francis Wollaston, and used in the odometer, an instrument for measuring the distance travelled by carriages.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-982-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1967.98
Date: 1850 - 1875
Around 1850
Material: Brass. Inscription: ADIE & SON, EDINBURGH
Dimensions: 8.25" H x 10.00" L; case 2.38" H x 8.00" L x 4.25" W
What: Current meter / box
Subject: 10. OCEANOGRAPHY (Departmental Classification)
Who: Adie & Son (Inscribed on the meter)
Where: SCOTLAND, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Description: Current meter, in a fitted box, made in the third quarter of the nineteenth century for use in oceanography
  • Arthur H. Frazier. Water Current Meters in the Smithsonian Collections of the National Museum of history and Technology. Washington D.C., 1974, pp 51-56 
  • David Brewster. Odometer. Edinburgh Encyclopaedia (Edinburgh, 1830), vol. XV, p 449. 
  • For the Adie business, see T.N. Clarke et al. Brass & Glass: Scientific Instrument making Workshops in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989, pp 25-84. A water current meter sold by Patrick Adie of London is discussed on p 83. 
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