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Philadelphia laboratory, circa 1948. Chief Chemist William C. Beard on the left, and Charles Curtis on the right, are shown dividing raw sugar for sampling.
The U.S. Customs Service used optical instruments like this half shade polariscope, patented in 1907, for at least sixty years in sugar analysis. Accuracy was critical. Small degrees of difference in the samples translated to substantial overall duties assessed across a whole shipment.
Excerpt from a transcript of James A. Garfield's speech before the United States House of Representatives on the sugar tariff, 1879. Garfield became the 20th president of the United States.
Illustration of the Bates saccharimeter, 1912. The saccharimeter is a version of the polariscope calibrated to use solely for sugar analysis. Source: Handbook of Sugar Analysis, 1912.
Patent for a type of half shade polariscope used by the U.S. Customs Service. Light passes-through a tube containing sugar solution-into the eye piece, which was rotated to reveal a fully circular clear image. The degree of rotation of the eyepiece corresponds to the level of sucrose, which in turn marks the quality of the sugar product.
Title page and excerpt from a pamphlet arguing against the sugar tariff, 1880.
Map of Jamaica with an engraving of a sugar mill, dated 1851.
Chart from 1897 atlas showing sugar and molasses import and consumption values.
Max F. Lieberls of the Savannah laboratory using a half shade polariscope to examine a sugar sample, 1968. The cylindrical apparatus on the right is the light source. Polarisopes were replaced by automatic polarimeters in the 1970s.
This sugar balance and trier (scoop) were used by U.S. Customs Service in preparing sugar for testing. They were manufactured to precise specifications to insure equality in sampling across all of Customs.
Chief Chemist Walter L. Howell analyzing sugar at the New Orleans laboratory, 1906. The flasks on the left contained sugar in solution, while the ones on the right incorporated a small amount of lead acetate to determine impurities.