Case (detail), for saccharometer

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probably made in Edinburgh

Postcard of Case (detail), for saccharometer.
© National Museums Scotland

Case (detail), for saccharometer

This is a detail of a case containing a gilded brass instrument, known as Bates saccharometer, used to ascertain the quantity of sugar in liquids, and thus the alcohol content of beer. The instrument was made bought in 1879 from Peter Stevenson, a scientific instrument maker based in Edinburgh between 1836 and 1900.

The label on the outside of the case reads 'No. [Royal Arms] 7/BATE'S SACCHAROMETER/ P.STEVENSON. MAKER. EDINBURGH'.

Saccharometers were developed at the end of the 18th century for determining the strength of sugar solutions, in particular in brewing, to measure the alcohol content for taxation. Thomas Thomson (1773-1852), who opened the first practical chemical laboratory in Edinburgh, devised a saccharometer for use in the brewing industry. Used by the Scottish Excise from 1805, it was legally adopted in 1815, but later disallowed in favour of R.B. Bates' instrument.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-002-202-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1879.6.2
Date: 1879
c. 1850
Dimensions: 8.50" x 3.75"
What: Saccharometer, bates' / case
Subject: 22. PHYSICS, Hydrostatics (Departmental Classification)
Who: Bates (Eponym)
P. Stevenson, Edinburgh (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Description: Bates' saccharometer for ascertaining the quantity of sugar in liquids, e.g. in brewer's worts, in a case
  • For hydrometers and their various special purposes, see Turner, G. L'E., Nineteenth Century Scientific Instruments. London: 1983, p 72 
  • For Peter Stevenson, see Bryden, D.J. Scottish Scientific Instrument Makers 1660-1900. Edinburgh, 1972. p 57 
  • For Robert Brettell Bate's role in the development of this instrument, see McConnell, Anita, R.B. Bate of the Poultry, 1782-1847: the life and times of a scientific instrument maker. London: 1993, esp pp 9-18 
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