Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Museum News

You have probably noticed that it has been very hot this summer. The tarmac melted in places, water in birdbaths and elsewhere evaporated in record time and people lucky enough to own a swimming pool had stacks of visitors. Some Prince Albert thermometers showed temperatures above 40 degrees in the shade.

“Thermometer, 1633, from the Greek for heat, hot and measure. An instrument for measuring temperature by means of a substance whose expansion and contraction under different degrees of cold and heat are capable of accurate measurement.”

A splendid specimen of a thermometer can be seen in the “kombuis” of the museum. It is nearly as tall as I am and so heavy that I can hardly pick it up.

Stephens inks, on its enamelled front it says at the top and the bottom and it is graduated in Celsius and Fahrenheit. Next to the relevant temperatures you can read: Freezing, Temperate, Summer-heat, Blood-heat, Fever heat.

During the heat wave the substance filling the glass tube climbed up to blood-heat, the last time I looked it was back to summer-heat.

The thermometer is mounted on a wooden plank, which reveals an interesting piece of information:

“This thermometer is the property of H.O Stephens, 191 Aldersgate Street, London and should be returned to him, carriage forward, if it cannot be advantageously exhibited OUTSIDE your shop, so as to be seen by the passing public, and in order TO PREVENT ITS BEEN [sic] BROKEN during the night, as some have been, TAKE IN AT CLOSE OF THE DAY.

If the tube should become broken, please communicate with me at once.

If the spirit in this thermometer has, in transit, been shaken into the expansion bulbs at the top of the glass tube, or is broken in the column, hold the thermometer in the middle firmly by both hands and shake it vigorously, but carefully downwards, care being taken that it does not touch the ground.

This jerky action will impel the whole of the spirit to the bottom of the tube.

N.B. This thermometer must not be disfigured by having attached to it any written or printed matter of whatsoever kind, if so it will be recalled.”

How is that for an advertising gimmick?

Museum Greetings
Gunda Hardegen- Brunner

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