Robin Butler on Twitter

9965 A Small Sikes's Hydrometer with tables

Click on the images to see more detail

For the purpose of levying duty and tax, it was necessary for Customs and Excise officers to know the alcoholic strength of wines and spirits (beer and cider, too for that matter).  The tool used to guage the strength for much of the 19th and 20th centuries was the Sikes's hydrometer, and it was also used by vintners and others making and selling alcohol.

This one is smaller than most, and the lid is branded VR beneath a crown, and is inlaid with a brass plaque inscribed " Excise  Sikes's Hydromer  No 43 L. Oertling London".  With the instrument in its fitted case, and a magnifying glass (but lacking the thermometer), are two sets of tables needed to calculate the alcoholic strength at various temperatures.  One pocket book is dated 1857, the other larger version  is dated 1935, reprinted 1962.  It also is accompanied by a manuscript requisition order to the last Customs Officer who used it.

Date: c.1890

Dimensions: The box is 5", 12.8 cm. long

Sold (we would welcome news of similar items for sale)

Return to Archive of Sold Items item list