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Bartholomew Sikes's System of Alcoholometry

    Naturevolume 127pages398399 (1931) | Download Citation



    BARTHOLOMEW SIKES devised a system of alcoholometry which was legalised in Great Britain in 1816 for ascertaining the strength of spirits for revenue purposes and has remained in official use ever since. He designed a metal hydrometer and compiled tables for use in conjunction with it, which, together, provide a simple means of determining the strength of mixtures of alcohol and water. All that has to be done is to float the hydrometer in the sample of which the strength is required, observe the hydrometer reading, take the temperature of the sample and then consult the tables, where, under the temperature and against the hydrometer reading, is found the strength of the spirit. Such a simple and rapid method was not devised in a moment. Indeed, the Excise Department was established in 1643, nearly two hundred years before the adoption of Sikes's system, and from its inception one of its duties was the collection of taxes levied on spirits.

    Alcoholometry: an Account of the British Method of Alcoholic Strength Determination; with an Historical Introduction written by the Author in collaboration with George H. Gabb.

    Francis G. H. Tate. Pp. xviii + 93 + 12plates. (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1930.) 5s. net.

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