Stammer Colorimeter

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Karl Stammer, a manager of a German factory that processed beet sugar, published an account of a colorimeter for grading sugar juices in 1874. The accompanying illustration shows an example made by Franz Schmidt & Haensch, an instrument house in Berlin that had been established in 1864 and that is still in business today.
Stammer colorimeters were imported into the United States as early as 1896. In its 1926 ad for Stammer colorimeters, the Fisher Scientific Co. in Pittsburgh noted that they cost $190 and could be used with such substances as sugar solutions, oils, shellacs, varnishes, paints, and filter press runnings.
The Stammer colorimeter has two parallel tubes, one holding a disc of a standard color and the other holding the sample to be analyzed. Light reflected from a milk glass plate at the base passes up through the tubes, and is refracted by a set of prisms and viewed through an eyepiece. There is a plunger in the sample tube that can be moved up and down, and an identical one in the standard tube that cannot.
This example is marked "Franz Schmidt & Haensch / Werkstätten für Wissenschaftliche Instrumente / BERLIN S. 42." The Smithsonian purchased it in 1976. A few design elements, such as the shape of the housing for the prisms, suggest that it was made in the 1920s.
Ref: Fisher Scientific Co., (Pittsburgh, 1926), p. 243.
K. Stammer, Lehrbuch der Zuckerfabrikation (Braunschweig, 1874), p. 602.
Currently not on view
Franz Schmidt & Haensch
place made
Deutschland: Berlin, Berlin
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
iron (overall material)
nickel silver (overall material)
case: 56.5 cm x 16.2 cm x 14 cm; 22 1/4 in x 6 3/8 in x 5 1/2 in
cylinder: 305 mm x 32 mm; 12 in x 1 1/4 in
instrument: 52 cm x 13.3 cm; 20 1/2 in x 5 1/4 in
overall in case: 22 3/8 in x 5 1/2 in x 6 3/8 in; 56.8325 cm x 13.97 cm x 16.1925 cm
overall: case fragment: 3/16 in x 5 1/16 in x 2 13/16 in; .47625 cm x 12.85875 cm x 7.14375 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Medicine and Science: Chemistry
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History