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NOVA-Antiques is the Mid Atlantic website for all things antique and collectible. Our website features antique & collectibles dealers, shops & malls; Flea Market Directory & Reviews; Monthly Antiques Show Calendar; Estate & Tag Sales Page; and our NOVA-Antiques Newsletter, which contains news, articles and information about the antiques & collectibles market. NOVA-Antiques Blog is an extension of our Newsletters.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Antique Barometers - A Brief History

It wasn’t until 1844 that the first mass marketable barometer was made in France, but the barometer has a much longer history than that. The first mercury barometer was invented by a student of Galileo named Torricelli in 1643. After much research and development by scientists and weathermen, the antique mercury barometer was used to predict changing weather patterns. During the 1700’s many stick barometers were made. These were nothing more than a glass tube with mercury inside and a scale either engraved on a piece of wood or paper scale attached to the wood. Due to the mercury that these antique barometers contain, collectors must use caution when handling them. As a matter of fact, the CDC issued a warning in June of 2007 about these types of antiques.

During the Victorian period, many cabinet makers and clock designers started making elaborate wooden cases for barometers. The wooden cases are often works of art themselves and can bring in thousands of dollars at auction. Many of the antique barometers that we see from this period are in the familiar banjo shape and made of different woods including rosewood and mahogany. After 1844, aneroid (without liquid) barometers were made by many manufacturers and sold on the open market. These barometers are considered safer because they contained no mercury and better because they were smaller, accurate and were more portable. By the late 1800’s mercury barometers were a thing of the past.

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