Crown Water Meter

This is a rotary piston water meter signed “Nat’l Meter Co. N.Y. AA-X Crown Meter.” It has a split case and no serial number. It fit a ⅝” pipe, and was made by the National Meter Company of New York-whether in Manhattan or in Brooklyn remains to be determined. AA-X designates a linear register.
Lewis Hallock Nash, a student at the Stevens Institute of Technology, patented the first rotary-piston water meter and assigned his rights to the National Meter Company in New York City. Joining the firm after graduation, Nash developed a rotary piston meter that was accurate, durable, simple, compact, and inexpensive. National termed it the Crown, introduced it to market in 1882, and was soon boasting that this model was “used and adopted by no less than 400 Cities and Towns in the United States, the Dominion of Canada, and abroad.” National was still manufacturing the Crown some forty years later.
Ref: Lewis H. Nash, “Rotary Water-Meter,” U.S. Patent #211,582 (1879).
National Meter Co., Statistics, Tables and Water Meters (New York, 1887).
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1882-ca 1925
National Meter Company
place made
United States: New York, Brooklyn
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: 9 in x 7 1/4 in; 22.86 cm x 18.415 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
A.A. Hirsch
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Water Meters
Natural Resources
Data Source
National Museum of American History


"Interesting claim and it may be that no patent was filed in the USA at the time but the rotary piston meter was developed in the UK in the 1860's by Joseph Tylor and Sons, London.In its first form it had no web across the piston but a control arm between the piston wall and the centre of the piston where a pin engaged against the guide roller. As to when the web was added to replace the control arm, I don't have that information.I only have the bicentennial commemorative booklet (1977) which features the design but the patents were all retained by a former employee. As far as I am aware the date was 1865 or thereabouts.Of course, what is described as a rotary piston meter might refer to some other principal. But the only other single element positive displacement meter would be the nutating disc meter which I don't have knowledge of before 1885. I would be grateful if you have any illustrations. I would be happy to share what information I have for comparison."

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