Barrel/Vat Depth Measure

Date: c 1910

Origin: England

Size: 4¼ wide x 11¼ deep”

Materials: boxwood, brass

Object ID: WPH-CT135

This tool, also known as a barrel dipstick or dipping rule, was used to measure barrel depth and calculate the container volume. It includes six rods in a leather-case that when joined together form a single 60-inch rod. Each individual ten-inch boxwood rod is capped with metal fittings that allow the pieces to be screwed together. The fittings and threads are fine. Tick markings inscribed on the wood include inches, decimetres, and Imperial gallons.

The leather case is stamped with “Gaskell & Chambers, London, Ltd. Specialists in bar fittings, 113, 114, & 115 Blackfriars Rd. S.E..” Gaskell & Chambers was once one of Britain’s largest manufacturers of bar and pub fittings, around 1900.

WPH-CT135 Gaskell & Chambers Barrel/Vat Depth Measure, c 1910.

WPH-CT135 Gaskell & Chambers Barrel/Vat Depth Measure, c 1910.

A boxwood rod is marked with “T. O. Blake (Sikes’ Hydrometers) Ltd.”

WPH-CT135 Gaskell & Chambers Barrel/Vat Depth Measure, c 1910.

T. O. Blake (Sikes’ Hydrometers) Ltd. was a London manufacturer of Sikes’ Hydrometer, Bates’ Saccharometers, thermometers, and dipping rods. The company was a contractor for British Customs, Excise, & Admiralty, and these type of measuring tools were used by customs officials to inspect wine barrels.

The Sike’s Hydrometer Act 1816 (under King George III of England) established the Sike’s Hydrometer, invented by Benjamin Sikes, as the required tool for ascertaining the strength of alcohol for the distiller, victualler and tax collector as the replacement for the Clarke’s Hydrometer. It remained in use into the mid-20th century.