Instruction book, for set of specific gravity beads

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probably made in Edinburgh

Postcard of Instruction book, for set of specific gravity beads.
© National Museums Scotland

Instruction book, for set of specific gravity beads

This instruction book is for a set of specific gravity beads made around 1810, probably in Edinburgh by Isabella Lovi, the widow of a scientific instrument maker, Angelo Lovi, who emigrated to Scotland from Milan in 1772.

Mrs Lovi patented her improvements to the glass 'philosophical bubbles' in 1805, and published a later booklet, 'Directions for Using the Patent Aerometrical beads and Sliding Rule, for ascertaining the specific gravities or strengths of spirituous liquors ... with Tables.' This is dated 1813, and was published in Edinburgh.

The set features 363 specific gravity beads, together with two slide rules, a thermometer, six glass rods and this instruction book. The set could have been used for a variety of purposes: from ether to concentrated sulphuric acid, which is why there are so many individual glass 'beads', each marked with their respective specific gravity. The Highland Society of Scotland were keen to see it applied to testing the quality of milk, and awarded Mrs Lovi a premium in 1816.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-002-208-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1962.115
Date: Around 1810
c. 1810
Material: Box wood slide-rule / bone slide-rule / glass rods / mahogany box
Dimensions: Box 13.13" x 12.38" x 5.38" H
What: Bead, gravity / bubble, philosophical / sliderule / thermometer
Subject: 22. PHYSICS, Hydrostatics (Departmental Classification)
Who: Mrs J. Lovi, High Street, Edinburgh (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Description: Three hundred and sixty three aerometrical beads, two slide-rules, one thermometer, six glass rods and an instruction book, all in a drawer of a mahogany box, and made by J. Lovi of Edinburgh, c. 1810
  • For Mrs Lovi, see A.D. Morrison-Low, Women in the Nineteenth-Century Scientific Instrument Trade, in Marina Benjamin (ed.), Science & Sensibility: Gender and Scientific Enquiry 1780-1945, Oxford, 1991, p 103 
  • I. Lovi and J.R. Irving, British Patent 2826, 9 March 1805, 'Apparatus for determining the specific gravity of fluid bodies'. I. Lovi, Directions for Using the Patent Aerometric Beads, Edinburgh, 1813. 
  • T.C. Hope, 'Report of a Committee of the Highland Society appointed to examine the Beads for Ascertaining the Specific Gravity of Liquids Invented by Mrs Lovi and the application of them to discover the richness of milk, Transactions of the Highland Socie 
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