Kerosene testing thermometer

Made by Flavelle Brothers Ltd in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1885-1920.

This thermometer was used at Sydney Observatory to test the temperature of stored kerosene. Kerosene was used as a fuel source for lamps and lanterns.

The thermometer was made by Flavelle Brothers & Co., who were significant Australian scientific instrument makers in the 19th century.

This thermometer remains of national significance due to its pioneering role in Australian science and its association with Australia’s earliest astronomers. It is also of international significance due to its as...


Kerosene testing thermometer in case, glass / mercury / wood, made by Flavelle Brothers, Australia, 1885-1900, used by Sydney Observatory, New South Wales, Australia, 1885-1920

A kerosene testing thermometer reading between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermometer consists of a glass capillary tube marked with degrees Fahrenheit and containing mercury which rises or falls as it expands or contracts with changes in temperature. The thermometer is stored in a cylindrical wooden case with a wooden screw top lid. A piece of note paper with handwritten text accompanies the thermometer.

Sydney Observatory stock number 218.


This thermometer was made between 1885 and 1920 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

John Flavelle arrived in Australia around 1842 and worked for Australia's first professional photographer, G. B. Goodman. Four years later he established an optician's and watchmaker's business in Sydney with Samuel Brush which was a highly successful business and had premises at 488 George St and also 478 George St. The partnership dissolved in 1849, and John Flavelle continued to run the 478 George St property, whilst Brush worked from 488 George St. Brush went on to work with Flavelle's brother in law, William McDonnell. John Flavelle was joined by his brother Henry. Both these separate business grew successfully and they were significant retailers of scientific instruments in Sydney in the late 1800s.

It is recorded that Henry Flavelle sailed to Australia with his wife and child on the vessel The Chartley Castle leaving Europe in February and arriving in Sydney mid June, 1849. He was travelling with 16 packages of merchandise, including new and innovative scientific instruments, to stock his brother's new shop

The business operated under the name Flavelle Brothers until 1850, then Flavelle Brothers and Co until 1869.

Julian Holland, Australian Exploration and the Introduction of the Aneroid Barometer, Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society, No 61 (June 1999), pp 24-26
Flavelle Brothers Ltd 1885-1920


This thermometer was used at Sydney Observatory, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia between 1885 and 1920. Kerosene was widely used as a fuel source for lanterns and lamps during this period.
Sydney Observatory 1885-1920


Source unknown
4 November, 1983

Cite this Object

Kerosene testing thermometer 2014, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Kerosene testing thermometer |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Store 4 at the Museums Discovery Centre.
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