Quadrant Electrometer

Quadrant Electrometer

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The “No. 14 Thomson's Patent” inscription on this electrometer refers to William Thomson (1824-1907), the renowned mathematical physicist who invented the quadrant electrometer in 1853 and introduced several improvements over the course of the next seventeen years. This example is of the form unveiled in 1870. Since it was found in the Smithsonian “Castle,” we assume it was acquired by Joseph Henry, the physicist who served as the founding Secretary of the Institution.
Ref: William Thomson, “Report of Electrometers and Electrostatic Measurements,” in Papers on Electrostatics and Magnetism (London, 1872), pp. 260-309.
Matthew Trainer, “The Patents of William Thomson (Lord Kelvin),” World Patent Information 26 (2004): 311-317.
George Green and John T. Lloyd, Kelvin’s Instruments and the Kelvin Museum (Glasgow, 1970).
Currently not on view
Object Name
patented by
patented in
United Kingdom: Scotland, Glasgow City
Associated Place
United States: New Jersey
overall: 5 in x 3 in; 12.7 cm x 7.62 cm
overall: 4 7/8 in x 3 5/8 in; 12.3825 cm x 9.2075 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Medicine and Science: Chemistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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