Scientific instruments

Scientific instruments

Physics demonstration apparatus - an Air Pump

Since the 18th century, Liverpool has been a major centre for the manufacture and retail of navigational and scientific instruments.

The Liverpool scientific instrument collection has some 75 specimens displaying local innovations such as the Dicas Hydrometer c. 1770, the Farmer slide rules and folding sovereign balance. Also important was the relationship between the local men of science and the instrument makers such as the King barograph, the Chadburn-Doodson recording tide gauge and the Sewill combined nautical and sounding sextant.

The term 'scientific instrument maker' was loosely applied to a group of businesses which specialized in the manufacture and retail of a whole range of items. Many Liverpool businesses are listed simply as 'opticians and mathematical instrument makers' in the trade directories. These firms would typically offer octants, sextants, mariner's telescopes, compasses and chronometers. A number of items from the prime Liverpool makers and retailers such as Abraham, Adie, Sewill and Chadburn are held within the collections.

Items such as astronomical telescopes and instruments for surveying on land (such as miner's dials and theodolites) are also represented in the collection.