James Green Minimum Thermometer

This alcohol-in-glass Rutherford-type thermometer is mounted on a flat brass plate marked "NO. 1483 SIGNAL SERVICE U.S.A." and "JAS. GREEN NEW YORK." A white porcelain strip on the plate is graduated every 5 degrees Fahrenheit from -35 to+115. The bulb is spherical. The stem is marked "U.S. 1483" and graduated (but not numbered) every degree Fahrenheit from -35 to +122. It was made between 1870 (when the U.S. Signal Service established a national weather service) and 1879 (when James Green took his nephew into partnership and began trading as J. & H. J. Green).
John Rutherford, a Scottish country doctor, devised this form in 1790. Green stated in 1900 that it was "the only one in general use." It has a black index inside the tube. "On a decrease of temperature the alcohol recedes, taking with it the glass index; on an increase of temperature the alcohol alone ascends the tube, leaving the end of the index farthest from the bulb indicating the minimum temperature."
Ref.: Henry J. Green, Meteorological and Scientific Instruments (Brooklyn, 1900), p. 23.
Currently not on view
Object Name
minimum thermometer
date made
plate: 12 in; 30.48 cm
tube: 10 1/2 in; 26.67 cm
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Thermometers and Hygrometers
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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