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This saccharimeter is marked "E. H. SARGENT & C0. 645 CHICAGO" and "BUREAU OF STANDARDS WASHINGTON" and "B.S. 2862." It was probably made by J. & J. Fric of Prague. The National Bureau of Standards transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1960.
The Bureau of Standards was established in 1901 and given responsibility for standardizing the saccharimeters and other instruments used to assess the saccharine quality of sugar coming into the United States. Frederick Bates joined the Bureau in 1903 after having earned a M.S. in physics from the University of Nebraska. Placed at the head of the Polarimetry Section of the Optics Division, he was effectively in charge of the government’s sugar research program. In 1907 he published the design for a quartz compensating polariscope with adjustable sensibility that allowed observers to admit only as much light as was needed and thus preserve as much accuracy as possible. Bates asked J. & J. Fric of Prague to manufacture this instrument for the U.S. Customs Service. The Frics also made a slightly simpler model, as here, more suitable for chemists working in industry and academia.
E. H. Sargent & Co., the Chicago firm that imported Fric instruments into the United States, explained that the Bates saccharimeter was the first instrument with wedge compensation for white light whose sensibility and brightness were adjustable; its optical and mechanical parts were protected by a dust-proof metal case; and its scales and verniers were etched on ground glass and read by transmitted light.
Ref: F. Bates, “A Quartz Compensating Polariscope with Adjustable Sensibility,” Bulletin of the Bureau of Standards 4 (1907): 461-466.
F. Bates, “Remarks on the Quartz Compensating Polariscope with Adjustable Sensibility,” Bulletin of the Bureau of Standards 5 (1908): 193-198.
E. H. Sargent & Co., Price List No. 25. Scientific Laboratory Apparatus and Bacteriological Supplies (Chicago, 1922), p. 372.
Currently not on view
date published
date made
after 1907
J. & J. Fric
place made
Česká Republika: Středočeský, Prague
overall: 16 1/4 in; 41.275 cm
overall: 16 1/2 in x 9 in; 41.91 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
National Bureau of Standards
National Bureau of Standards
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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