A basic Sikes Hydrometer held in a custom made polished mahogany case and accompanied by a book of tables, two wooden slide rulers and a thermometer mounted on an ivory base. The case, which is lined in parts with purple velvet contains a calibrated brass float, nine brass weights (one original one is missing), and the rulers and thermometer. " SYKES HYDROMETER / LITTLEJOHN & SON / WELLINGTON " is marked on an ivory plate set into the lid. A paper label with various calibration information is also stuck on the lid which includes a signature and a date " 9/11/34 " and "Thermometer Correct " The hydrometers serial number " 8183 " is stamped on various parts. The hardback book of tables has a title page which reads " SIKES' TABLES / OF THE / CONCENTRATED STRENGTH / OF / SPIRITS, / WITH DIRECTIONS FOR THE USE OF HIS / HYDROMETER / ESTABLISHED THROUGHOUT THE UNITED KINGDOM FOR ESTIMATING / THE DUTIES OF SPIRITUOUS LIQUIDS / By Act of Parliament , 58 Geo. III, cap. 28 / TO WHICH IT IS ADDED / TABLES OF SPECIFIC GRAVITY / ADAPTED TO THE USE OF THE HYDROMETER / REVISED EDITION. The manual also has a number of handwritten notes in it. " Edwin Don " is handwritten in the front of the manual.
This hydrometer was originally used by the New Plymouth cordial, chemist and veterinary supplies manufacturer A E Sykes and Sons Ltd. After the business closed down it was purchased by Gilbert Gibson who used it in his home winemaking operation. Hydrometers were used to find the specific gravity of a liquid. This could then often be used to find the composition or strength of the liquid. The Sikes hydrometer was the legal standard means of determining the alcohol content of spirits from 1816-1907 and they remained in common use for a long time after this period.
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