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    

Schatz Royal Mariner, Brass Clock And Barometer. In Great Running ConditionSilver Plated English Pocket Aneroid Barometer & Altimeter, Original Case Works19thc Antique Victorian Era Ships Bulkhead Stick Barometer Nautical ThermometerBeautiful West German Schatz Royal Mariner Ships Clock & Matching BarometerVery Unusual Victorian Antique Bronze Desk Barometer Child & Doll Figure No ResSuunto Core Lava Red Ss016788000 Compass, Altimeter, Barometer, Sports, Outdoors3 Original Schats Nautical Vintage Items, Ships Clock, Barometer, Hyrometer Chelsea Clock Co. Barometer Ships Wheel Matches Clock ListedRare Vintage 8 Day Angelus Barometer Thermometer Alarm Desk Clock 15j W/dayShip's Bell Clock With Matching Barometer - Seth Thomas HelmsmanAntique Short & Mason Compensated Pocket Barometer In Leather Travel CaseQuality Antique Aneriod Barometer , Early 1900's & Working Well.just 99p Start !Schatz Ships Bell Clock And Barometer Set-with Original Boxes!Superb Antique Carved Oak Barometer , Embossed Dial , Pearce Of LeicesterWw1**rare** U.s. Signal Service F.a. Hardy Porcelain Faced Brass Ships BarometerMopar Master Parts Award Thermometer Barometer Timing Chain Plaque Bruce FoxArt Deco Barometer In Black And Chrome GenuineVintage Pocket Barometer/altimeter, 0-10,000 Feet Vintage Art Deco Bakelite Barometer "taylor Baroguide"Antique Barometer Thermometer Box And Scale Plus A Barometer Tube And ScaleAntique French Wall Clock With Thermometer And Barometer By Japy FreresOregon Scientific Ba928 433 Mhz Wireless Weather Station Barometer Humidity TempC.1900~pocket Barometer / Altimeter / Compass / Thermometer + Case~englandAntique Taylor Fishing Guide Fisherman's Barometer In Original Box W/insertSeth Thomas, Matching Clock And Barometer, Brass Cased, Very Nice. Antique Tiffany & Co. Brass Weather Station Barometer/clock/thermometer/compassCasio Pathfinder Paw2000t Compass, Altimeter, Barometer, Ti BandFish Tech Pyle Fishing/hunting Tide Altimeter Barometer Thermometer HygrometerNorwich City F.c ~ Beautiful Framed Centenary Barometer 201-2002{***} Antique Black Forest Hand Carved German Barometer Thermometer Fahrenheit Thermometer With Clock And Barometer 5.5in X 2 Inmade In FranceVintage Brass Airguide Compensated Barometer Marine EquipmentVintage Jewelry Store Honeywell Barometer With 24 Kt Gold Finish1890′s Short & Mason Compensated Tycos BarometerAntique Tiger Oak Barometer/thermometerVintage Thermometer Barometer Nautical Ship Wheels Bill & Joe Herlihy Vg+ Swift?Howard Miller Wall Mount Thermometer, Clock, Barometer, Hygrometer Excellent !!!Vintage Taylor Barometer / AltimeterChelsea Boston "weather Barometer" - A Seldom Seen 4 1/2 Inch FindAntique Remembrance 4 Sided Rotating Clock W Thermometer Barometer HygrometerVintage 1959 Taylor Forecaster Altimeter Barometer For Automobile W/boxVintage Chelsea Clock Co Nautical Barometer.Aneriod Barometer - Eugene Dietzgen & Company ChicagoVintage Barometer Black Forest Carved Wood Deer Western GermanyVintage C1970's Swift & Anderson Inc Desk Top Ships Wheel Barometer &thermometerGischard Barometer Fahrenheit Wall Thermometer Germany Vtg Brass Weather StationSunbeam Clock With Barometer, Thermometer, & Humidity Black Plastic Used WorksVintage Chelsea Holosteric Barometer Brass Ship Nautical Device With ThermometerHamilton Quartz Clock Weather Station Barometer Thermometer Swiss Harrison Nice!Vintage Airguide Barometer 1956 Instrument Co Chicago Vintage Tradition Japan Weather Station Barometer Thermometer HygrometerElk/deer Barometer/ ThermometerVintage Barometer Germany Black Forest Weather Station Schwarzwald SchnitzereienAneriod Barometer - Eugene Dietzgen & Company ChicagoVintage Made In Germany Large 38"banjo Style Barometer,hygrometer & Thermometer Wireless Weather Station Indoor Outdoor Temperature Barometer Humidity Rcc Dcf77Vintage Western Germany Nautical Gauges Brass Thermometer & Barometer Set! Rare!Vintage Shortland British England Barometer Weather Instrument 4 SeasonsArt Deco Taylor Instruments Co.stormoguide Weather Station Bakelite BarometerArt Deco Taylor Instruments~stormoguide Weather Station Bakelite Barometer