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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 measure the current in moving water. This brass example (pictured here in its fitted wooden case) was made around 1850, probably by Alexander Adie & Son, scientific instrument makers based in Edinburgh.

This device, which has two linked dials superimposed one on the other 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.

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Online ID: 000-180-000-981-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.1967.97
Date: Around 1850
c. 1850
Material: Brass vertical arm. Inscription: Adie & Son, 50 Princes Street
Dimensions: 2.00" H x 12.75" L x 5.75" W; 4.13" D
What: Current meter / box
Subject: 10. OCEANOGRAPHY (Departmental Classification)
Who: Adie & Son (Inscribed on a label on the box)
Adie and Son, Edinburgh (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh ? (50 Princes Street)
Description: Current meter made in Scotland in the first half 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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