Jason Clarke Antiques

Miniature Pocket Sikes Hydrometer by Joseph Long of Eastcheap London


For sale, a miniature pocket Sikes hydrometer by Joseph Long of 43 Eastcheap, London.

Comprised of a small burr walnut case with a purple velvet fitted base and purple silk lid, this rare pocket version contains a small brass Sikes hydrometer with a scale marked from 0 to 10, The side of the scale is minutely engraved with “Sikes P 51 degrees” and the serial number 23422.

The surrounding and complete set of hydrometer weights are all similarly marked with the same serial, and with the JL stamp for Joseph Long, the maker. It has a small horn magnifying glass for reading the measurement and a further slot at the back which contains a blue spirit Fahrenheit thermometer marked to L Lumley & Co Ltd.

The case is complete with its original snap lock and a cartouche to the lid stating:

“Sikes’s Pocket Hydrometer by Joshua Long, 43 Eastcheap, London”  

Little is known of Joseph Long’s business but there is some suggestion that he may have been related to the instrument maker James Long who traded at The Royal Exchange until his death in 1811. Nevertheless, his business was formed ten years later in 1821 and was based at 20 Little Tower Street until 1884. Long is most well known for his specialism for hydrometers, the company was evidently successful, and he is recorded in 1850 as petitioning alongside Dring & Fage to The Excise Office for their contract following the demise of Robert Brettell Bate whose Father in Law Bartholomew Sikes had invented this famous instrument. Dring & Fage were the successful applicant having argued their previous good service but Long certainly remained a strong competitor nevertheless.

The company is noted as moving to 43 Eastcheap in 1885 and remained in existence until 1936. It is not known who maintained the company after Joseph Long’s death but the move of premises at least provides some useful evidence for dating this instrument. For additional interest, an image of the premises as it looked in its final period is included to show you where this instrument would have been initially purchased. The building still exists today.

The reference to L Lumley & Co on the thermometer is undoubtedly that of the purchasing company or retailer. Lumleys were a renowned supplier to the drinks industry during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.

Full size Hydrometers are of course quite common occurrences although they are rarely complete. This miniature sized example is somewhat of a rarity measuring just 13 x 5 x 4.5 cms. An interesting and beautifully cased example.  

Circa 1890.

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