Thermometer scale

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probably made in London

Postcard of Thermometer scale.
© National Museums Scotland

Thermometer scale

This scale is part of a differential thermometer (pictured here with its instruction manual) devised by William Hawks Grice around 1820. The thermometer appears to have been made for botanical use, at a time when interest was growing in plants from exotic locations which needed to live in hot-houses in order to survive.

This engraved brass scale is shown alongside an instruction book dated 1818, which describes and illustrates the complete instrument. The centre of the plate has an 'IMPROVED / BOTANIC SCALE' noting the temperatures associated with 9 hothouse plants. The reverse gives the temperature of the waters at various fashionable spas, and the 'Heat of hedge-hog and marmot in a torpid state' at 30 degrees!

William Hawks Grice advertised himself as 'by appointment to their Majesties and the Royal Family'. He was based in New Bond Street as successor to Alexander Fraser, and was in turn succeeded in business by the Dixey firm (which also held a Royal Appointment). Hawks Grice is recorded at this address between 1818 and 1823, and clearly catered for wealthy clients.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-186-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.1974.101
Date: 1818
Around 1820
Material: Brass name plate. Inscription: WM. HAWKS GRICE'S BOND ST LONDON; Extreme Cold following Nights Extreme heat following Days; IMPROVED BOTANIC SCALE
Dimensions: 220 mm W x 65 mm
What: Thermometer, differential
Subject: 22. PHYSICS, Heat (Departmental Classification)
Who: William Hawks Grice, Bond Street, London (Maker)
Where: England, London
Description: Part of a differential thermometer signed by William Hawks Grice of London in 1818
  • For the rise in popularity of botany, see D.E. Allen, The Naturalist in Britain: a Social History (London, 1976); and Lynn Barber, The Heyday of natural history 1820-1870 (London, 1980) 
  • Wm. Hawks Grice, Description of the new Improved Self-Registering Thermometer; Manufactured by Wm Hawks Grice ... (London, 1818). For Grice, see Gloria Clifton, Directory of British Scientific Instrument makers 1550-1850 (London, 1995), pp 120 
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