Barometers are used to measure atmospheric pressure, but they were created in the 17th century when an Italian mathematician named Evangelista Torricelli, a former student of Galileo’s, devised the first artificial vacuum out of a glass tube filled with mercury. Subsequently, French philosophers René Descartes and Blaise Pascal used the instrument to determine altitude, but it was only by chance that scientists noticed that weather also affected the device’s measurements.

Mercury barometers have changed little since the days of Torricelli. Cistern barometers still consist of a slender glass tube sealed at the top and connected to a larger chamber at the bottom. Like the tube, the cistern is filled with mercury. When atmospheric pressure is reduced due to, say, the presence of moisture in the air, the mercury in the barometer falls. When it increases because of heat, the barometer rises. That’s why many barometers are marked with the word “Rain” next to low readings and “Fair” next to higher ones.

The other type of mercury barometer is a siphon barometer, whose glass tube is U-shaped rather than straight, obviating the need for a cistern. In either case, glass barometers are fragile, so they are usually mounted to a piece of mahogany or other decorative hardwood. And because the movement of the mercury in the tube can be very small, the English naturalist and microscope enthusiast Robert Hooke invented a dial that made the liquid’s subtle movements easier to perceive.

Early barometer manufacturers include Edward Naire, who pioneered ship barometers in the late 18th century. Like compasses of that era, Naire’s barometers had gimbal mounts and were housed in a ship’s binnacle. Scarlett and Champney’s, Negretti and Zambra, and James Green were respected English instrument makers of the early 19th century. A parallel development was the aneroid barometer, which did not rely on liquid to make its measurements. Lucien Vidie achieved that trick, although he had to fight off a patent infringer named E. Bourdon, who made 10,000 “manometers” before being forced to pay Vidie damages. By 1861, Negretti and Zambra were making pocket-size aneroid barometers, but these Victorian devices are less desirable to collectors than the more traditional stick or wheel barometers made by firms such as Berringer, Dollond, Rofsi, or Beerfield.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Alloy Artifacts

Alloy Artifacts

A tool collectors’ dream, this site is a deep repository of photos and info on 20th century hand tools and the co… [read review or visit site]

Old Woodworking Machines

Old Woodworking Machines

This collective website, which started as an online discussion forum, now also includes a large database of manufac… [read review or visit site]

Drainspotting

Drainspotting

Josh and Cam Larios have created this site enabling people to upload and 'tag' photos of historic or artistic manho… [read review or visit site]

A Millers Falls Home Page

A Millers Falls Home Page

Randy Roeder has carved out a niche for himself with his fine website devoted to the history of the Millers Falls C… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Old Railway Wall Clock - Barometer - B.r. (e) Lincoln St.marks Extremely RareAntique 19thc Surveying Aneroid Compensated Brass Barometer & Leather CaseWonderful Carved Combination Barometer Mantel Clock Triple Dial Mantel ClockVintage Barigo Desk Weather Station Barometer Hygrometer Thermometer Vintage Old Weather Station Barometer ThermometerAntique 19th Century English Negretti And Zambra Stick Barometer London 1885Rare Antique J Hicks Watkin Patent Compensated Large Surveying Barometer BoxedRetro 1960's Tfa Modernist Sputnik Weather Station Barometer Hydrometer- Fab!Estate Fresh Find Nh Chelsea Ship's Bell Clock Holosteric Barometer Set 1960's Vintage Boston Chelsea 5.5” Ship Clock And Barometer In Brass - Nautical ClockAdmiral Fitzroy Barometer (c1865)Vintage Desktop Barometer / BarographVintage Schatz Ship's Nautical Barometer W/ Curved Bar Thermometer Brass Case Negretti & Zambra - Antique Pocket Barometer Forecaster - Maritime - 1920sVintage Old Weather Station Barometer ThermometerAntique Victorian Scottish Barometer By Mc Phearson Brothers, GlasgowWeems & Plath Brass Ship's Clock & BarometerVintage Baltimore Marine Brass Aneroid Barometer In Original Wood BoxVintage Taylor Auto Altimeter-barometer No. 2068 C - 5,000 FeetVintage Barigo Weather Station Hygro Barometer Thermometer Germany Vestal "the Guide" Altimeter, Barometer, Temperature Wristwatch.Vintage Old Banjo Weather Station Barometer ThermometerGerman Barometer Brass Housing Made In Germany Rain Change Fair Antique MaritimeBeautiful Mahogany Small Chelsea Ship's Clock / Barometer Dual PlatformSeth Thomas Helmsman Barometer Model 1508-001Vintage Hanging Barometer / Clothes Brush Set - 1940's Hall Item?Chelsea Ships Bell Clock & Barometer Claremont Set Ca 1959Antique 19th C. French Walnut Barometer Thermometer Wall Clock Parts Or RepairVintage Brass Barometer Thermometer - Andrew J.lloyd - Boston - English MakeFish Tech Pyle Fishing/hunting Tide Altimeter Barometer Thermometer HygrometerAntique Swift & Anderson Compensated Barometer Brass Ship Anchor Nautical Decor!Antique Barometer/thermometerAntique Barometer(phbn )hulo Naudet Brass Wall Mount French Holosteric BarometerAntique Nautical Barometer & HygrometerSmall Brass Porthole Barometer - Very Good ConditionVintage Made In France Weather Station Desk Thermometer,barometer,hygrometerVintage Replogle 9" Globe Stand Thermometer Hydrometer Barometer Weather StationAntique 19th Century Negretti & Zambra Stick Barometer 1885 LondonQuality Edwardian Aneriod Barometer,early 1900's & Working Well.just 99p Start !Altimeter..barometer ...edge Mark...0-15,000 Feet ...made In JapanSemi Precious Gem Stone World Globe With Clock Barometer & Thermometer Vintage French Ships Barometer 20thcArt Deco Goldsmiths 8 Day Desk Clock/barometer Circa 1930.No. 35 Taylor Drum Barometer Charts (qty 58)Vintage Thommen 5000m Everest Altimeter Barometer SwitzerlandAntique "german" Mahogany Wall Mount Barometer/thermometer Weather Station-worksKienzle Wall Clock & Barometer (in Dutch) Quartz Battery SteampunkVintage Gauges For Weather Station – Barometer/thermometer/hygrometerVintage Thermometer And BarometerBrass & Wood Weather Center - Hygrometer,barometer And Thermometer - Germany Howard Miller Shore Station Clock Barometer Thermometer Nautical Vintage Weatherite BarometerVintage Taylor Stormoguide, Barometer, Thermometer W/ Gold BaseSpringfield Instrument Co. Weather Station Thermometer ,barometer & HumidityVintage Mantel Or Shelf Barometer Made By Springfield Instrument Co. U.s.a. NiceHoward Miller Catalina Clock Thermometer Barometer#612-718E J Prew Antique Barometer In BoxWeather Center, Thermometer, Barometer, & Humidity Gauge Made By SunbeamTaylor Drum Chart Barometer (for Parts, Not Working)Hand Blown Pilgrim Weather Storm Glass Barometer W/wood Panel