Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums General `Bell Stuff` Do you recognize this bell? I need help! Re: Re: Do you recognize this bell? I need help!


Hello Robert.

I rarely write in the forum, but I thought you would like to know about the thermometers that appear on this bell. There are several different combinations of three different temperature scales, Fahrenheit, Celsius and Réaumur. Some have only one scale which is engraved on the left, others have two, one left of the mercury tube and the other on the right. I first came across the Réaumur temperature scale when I was investigating an “R” scale on a friend’s bell. I first thought it might be the Rankin scale, but the numbers didn’t make sense. Room temperature on the Rankin scale is 527°R! I eventually came across the Réaumur temperature scale which fit.

The Réaumur temperature scale was established in 1730 by the French naturalist René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683–1757), with its 0°Ré set at the freezing point of water and its 80°Ré mark at the boiling point of water at normal atmospheric pressure. As you undoubtedly know Fahrenheit’s freezing and boiling of water are 32°F and 212°F and in Celsius they are 0°C and 100°C. Room temperature is roughly 68°F, 20°C and 16°Ré respectively.

Use of the Réaumur scale was once widespread in France, Germany& Russia, but by the late 1800s it had been supplanted by other systems. In fact on 1 April 1794 the revolutionary French government instituted the centigrade (now called Celsius) scale as part of the new, decimal metric system, thus doing away with the Réaumur scale. Its only modern use is in the measuring of milk temperature in cheese production. It is still used in some Italian dairies making Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano cheeses and in Swiss Alp cheeses.

Astonishingly the five bells that we know about have five different sets of temperature scales. There is a photo of this bell on the cover of Dorothy Anthony’s “World of Bells #2”. The scales on it are F & Ré. Others are C & Ré, Ré & C, C only and ours is Ré only. The two that have only one scale have “Eis” (ice) engraved on the right hand side opposite the zero mark. I think I can see that yours has F on the left side, but I can’t interpret the scale on the right. Please let me know.

We have another desk bell with an unusual combination of double inkwell, thermometer and a compass. The thermometer on it is engraved “Centigrade” on the left and “Réaumur” on the right.