Friez Water Stage Indicator

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Julien P. Friez designed this instrument “to record automatically and continuously the variations in the height of water in tanks, streams, flumes, reservoirs, etc.” It consists of a float and a drum recorder and is based on the patent issued to Julien P. Friez in 1901. A metal tag on the base reads “JULIEN P. FRIEZ & SONS / BELFORT METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATORY / 1230 E. BALTIMORE STREET, / BALTIMORE, MD. U.S.A.” The Weather Bureau transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1954.
Julien P. Friez was born north-eastern France in 1850, learned the instrument trade, came to the United States around 1868, and established a shop in Baltimore in 1890. He initially offered an assortment of mechanical and electrical instruments but, with close ties to Charles F. Marvin of the U.S. Weather Bureau, he began specializing in meteorological instruments. At the turn of the century, Friez bought land at the corner of East Baltimore St. and Central Ave. and built a factory. In honor of Belfort, a town near his native village, Friez named the new facility the Belfort Meteorological Observatory. The firm became Julien P. Friez & Son in 1913 and Julien P. Friez & Sons in 1914. Julien P. Friez & Sons, Inc., became a Division of the Bendix Corporation in 1930.
Ref: Julien P. Friez, “Recording Water-Gage,” U.S. Patent 681,536 (1901).
Friez’s Improved Automatic Water Stage Register (Baltimore, 1902). This is Circular W issued by the Belfort Meteorological Observatory.
Julien P. Friez & Sons, Friez’s Improved Automatic Water Stage Registers (Patented) (Baltimore, 1916).
Edward Wegmann, Conveyance and Distribution of Water for Water Supply (New York, 1918), pp. 572-573.
M. Eugene Rudd, “Julian P. Friez: An Important American Meteorological Instrument Maker,” Rittenhouse 8 (1994): 114-123.
Currently not on view
date made
place made
United States: Maryland, Baltimore
overall: 10 in x 20 in x 8 in; 25.4 cm x 50.8 cm x 20.32 cm
overall; weight: 7 3/8 in x 4 in; 18.7325 cm x 10.16 cm
overall; indicator: 7 5/8 in x 19 3/8 in x 9 7/8 in; 19.3675 cm x 49.2125 cm x 25.0825 cm
overall; disc: 4 1/2 in x 10 1/2 in; 11.43 cm x 26.67 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
U.S. Weather Bureau
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Water Currents
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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