Minimum Thermometer

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This Rutherford-type alcohol-in-glass thermometer has a cylindrical bulb, black dumbbell index, and double tube. The back of the tube is marked “Patent No. 4434” and [symbol of the Kew Observatory] and “10085” and “No. 84120.” The front of the tube carries a scale that extends from -25 to +130 graduated in degrees Fahrenheit. A milk-white plate inside the tube facilitates reading.
The referenced British patent, issued to James Webster of London in late 1875, described a clinical thermometer enclosed in a transparent glass tube designed to protect “the divisions, figures, and markings from injury or obliteration.” This example was probably made in Britain, and probably designed for meteorological or chemical use. It came to the Smithsonian from the U.S. Weather Bureau.
Ref.: Great Britain Patent Office, Chronological and Descriptive Index of Patents Applied For (London 1876), p. 926.
Great Britain Patent Office, Abridgements of Specifications. Class 92 (London, 1904), p. 125.
Currently not on view
date made
overall: 12 1/2 in; 31.75 cm
overall: 12 1/2 in x 3/8 in; 31.75 cm x .9525 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
U.S. Weather Bureau
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Thermometers and Hygrometers
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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