Garrett Wade has been fortunate to acquire a very limited quantity of authentic Customs & Excise Saccharometers in very fine condition, save for the missing thermometer. The set includes the main float with calibrated markings and five brass weights with tapered stems (a different weight would be used for beer than wine, for example). The set is beautifully fitted in an exquisite mahogany case - the most finely made instrument case we have ever seen. Measuring 9 x 2-1/2" x 2", the tapered coffin-like shape of the case is perfect for carrying in an inside jacket pocket, with the Royal crown insignia and C & E district number inscribed (2024 in our sample), also stamped on the individual brass weights. Each instrument component fits perfectly in the intricately carved, felt lined interior. A very fine and unusual collector's item.
Responsible for assessing and collecting duties on (among other things) spirits and beer, agents of HM Customs & Excise Board would use a type of hydrometer called a Saccharometer, an instrument calibrated to measure the concentration of sugar in solutions. Testing the "original gravity" (OG) of beer (or whatever) prior to fermentation is an efficient means of estimating what the alcohol content will be once all the sugars are fermented, eliminating the need for testing after fermentation, and in this manner C & E agents were able to determine the precise amount of alcohol on which to levy tax. Needless to say, it was a very demanding job performed primarily "in the field" in service to the Crown, and the tools used are both fascinating and beautiful. HM Customs& Excise was formed in 1909.
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