Price Water Current Meter

William Gunn Price designed a water current meter in 1882, obtained a patent, and asked W. & L. E. Gurley, a large instrument firm in Troy, New York, to undertake commercial production. This example is marked “W. G. PRICE / PAT. AUG. 25, 1885 / No. 21 / W. & L. E. GURLEY, TROY, N.Y.” It has a four-blade rudder, and a wheel with five conical buckets. Since it is 34 inches long, it must date from the period 1886-1894 when Gurley offered Price meters of this size. The National Bureau of Standards , the organization that calibrated current meters for federal agencies and engineers in private practice, transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1959.
Ref: William Gunn Price, “Current Meter,” U.S. Patent 325011 (1885).
W. & L. E. Gurley, Manual of the Principal Instruments Used in American Engineering and Surveying (Troy, N.Y., 1891), pp. 234-239.
Arthur H. Frazier, William Gunn Price and the Price Current Meters (Washington, D.C., 1967), p. 50.
Arthur H. Frazier, Water Current Meters in the Smithsonian Collections of the National Museum of History and Technology (Washington, D.C., 1974), pp. 78-87.
Object Name
water current meter
date made
W. & L. E. Gurley
overall: 34 in; x 86.36 cm
place made
United States: New York, Troy
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Water Currents
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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