Lovibond Tintometer

Joseph W. Lovibond, a brewer in Salisbury, England, sought a way to control beer quality by matching each batch to a color standard. In 1886, after some 20 years of experimentation, he obtained a British patent on a device that compared the color of a beer sample with the color made by a combination of two or three glass filters of various intensities of magenta, yellow, or cyan.
Lovibond introduced his Tintometer to the market in 1887, describing it as a “new instrument for the analysis, synthesis, matching, and measurement of colour.” It soon found uses in numerous industries. Eimer & Amend in New York claimed in 1895 that it was “Invaluable to Chemists, Dyers, Brewers, Sugar Refineries and Flouring Mills.” Moreover, its “method of expressing the composition of any given color with mathematical precision” gave a “new power” to colorimetric investigation. Tintometer, Ltd., was established by Lovibond in 1896 and is still in business today.
This example is marked “J. W. LOVIBOND PATENT TINTOMETER THE TINTOMETER LTD. SALISBURY No. 1913.” The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute bought it in 1914 for the use of William Pitt Mason, a chemistry professor and pioneer in the field of water and waste chemistry. It came to the Smithsonian in 1981.
Ref: The Tintometer Ltd.,< i>Colour Measurement (Salisbury, 1931).
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1914
Tintometer, Ltd.
Physical Description
mahogany (overall material)
brass (overall material)
base holder: 170 mm x 73 mm x 16 mm; 6 11/16 in x 2 7/8 in x 5/8 in
folded: 85 mm; 3 3/8 in
reflector frame: 180 mm x 207 mm x 127 mm; 7 1/16 in x 8 1/8 in x 5 in
meter: 299 mm x 63 mm x 40 mm; 11 3/4 in x 2 1/2 in x 1 9/16 in
base pesestal: 123 mm x 307 mm x 12.6 mm; 4 13/16 in x 12 1/16 in x 1/2 in
base arm: 178 mm x 27 mm; 7 in x 1 1/16 in
place made
United Kingdom: England, Salisbury
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
serial number
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Chemistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Chemistry

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