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]

Vintage Machinery

Vintage Machinery

This collective website, which started as an online discussion forum, also includes a large database of manufacture… [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    

Rare Asprey 60mm Cased! Pocket Barometer & Thermometer Circa 1895 Working London19thc Walnut Framed Wall Hanging Clock Calendar & Barometer Heath & Co London Antique Oak Aneroid Barometer,thermometer 19th Century Victorian Xxl 82 Cm Antique Gilt Bronze Tiffany & Company Wall Clock & Barometer W/ Dolphins, NrVictorian Brass Wall Barometer Cased C1900Seth Thomas Ships Clock & Barometer ~ Antique Pocket Barometer ~ Antique Brass Bronze Chelsea Boston Ship's Barometer Weather Clock UsaSchatz Ships Wheel Clock & Matching Barometer GermanyAntique French Japy Freres 8 Day Chime Wall Clock With Barometer & ThermometerVintage Seth Thomas Brass Maritime Ship Clock And Airguide Barometer Runs!Very Nice And Solid Vintage Sundo Pocket BarometerSchatz Barometer With ThermometerAntique Gilbert Gingerbread Shelf Clock Part -barometer - 1903 Laurel & OthersVintage Boston Chelsea Clock Co. Barometer Brass 5 ½” Broken GlassShort & Mason Tycos Military Afi Surveying Aneroid Barometer C.1900Genuine Breguet Portable Barometer French Army Museum Rarity High Quality Casio Pro Trek Prg-550-1a4 Tough Solar Triple Sensor Compass,barometer,altimeterAntique Waterbury Commodore Ships Clock, Barometer, Thermometer SetVintage P.f. Bollenbach Mahogany Banjo Barometer Weather Station ClockVintage Chelsea Boston Ships BarometerAntique J.j Hicks Barometer London England Works Perfect!!! 2 1/2 Diameter Herters Fishing Barometer Large Edwardian Aneriod Barometer,early 1900's & Working .sold For Restoration !1930s Taylor Catalin Barometer Baroguide In White CatalinThommen Pocket Altimeter/barometer 21000ft Nr!!!Pete Bros Model 88 Altimeter Barometer Mechanical 16 Jewels Compensated GermanCasio Pro Trek Prg-270-1jf Tough Solar Triple Sensor Compass,barometer,altimeterVintage Nautical Anchor Wall Barometer Hydrometer Thermometer Weather StationNazer 32 10dof Flight Controller W/barometer Compass For Mini QuadcopterVintage Jason Made In Germany Wall Barometer Weather Science InstrumentDivers Helmet With Barometer, Brass With Copper Finish-decorative Wooden Base Antique Brass Short & Mason Sm Barometer Old One CopperVintage Brass Wood Wall Barometer West Germany Weather GaugeVintage Brass Barometer~ship Nautical Maritime Compensated Germany 7" Face Vintage Paragon Barometer Weather Instrument, Wood & Brass, GermanyRare Vtg Relide Swiss Brass 4 Sided Clock Barometer Thermo-meter Hygrometer Nice Barometer, 1920's, Patinated Brass Case, One For Parts, Needs Repair, 5-1/4"dia Weather Station Focal West Germany Vintage Banjo Wood Thermometer BarometerVintage Airguide Barometer Compensated Marine Shipwheel Vintage Brass Wall Mount Barometer Made In Western GermanyMahogany Atco Germany No.1641 Wall Barometer 5" Very Nice Weather BarometerEthan Allen Thermometer/barometer On Wood Base Made In France, UsedVintage **barigo** Made In Germany Round Brass Barometer ~ 8" Skruf Sweden Hand Painted Crystal Glass Spout Water Thunderbottle BarometerBarometer Glass Wood Worsted Bobbin Flange Made England Weather Forecasting ArtWeather Barometer, Feldstein, Glass With Desktop Stand, UsedWeems And Plath Nautilus High Sensitivity Barometer Weather Proof1967 Hand Carved Mi Cherry Barometer The Wood Is Beautiful Cracked Lense Limited Edition Friends Of Nra Barometer Clock Thermometer Reclaimed Barn WoodVtg Solid Maple Air Guide Weather Station Brass Convex Glass Dome Barometer 6-in-1 Solar Power Backpack Electronic Compass Barometer Thermometer AltimeterVintage Taylor Industries Tycos Humidiguide Weather Meter Barometer Instrument