Barometer, made by James Watt

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Postcard of Barometer, made by James Watt.
© National Museums Scotland

Barometer, made by James Watt

This barometer was made around 1760 in Glasgow by James Watt (1736-1819). It is one of the very rare pieces surviving from the instrument-making period of James Watt's career.

The stick barometer has a wooden casing and a brass pointer and scale. It consists of a glass tube with mercury, which moves up and down according to variations in atmospheric pressure.

Although Watt is famed as an engineer, he trained as a scientific instrument maker, initially in Glasgow, then for a year in London. Glasgow University appointed him as its mathematical instrument maker between 1757 and 1763.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-044-625-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1975.51
Date: Around 1760
Material: Brass scale, wooden cistern and case. Inscription: James Watt Glasgow
Dimensions: 886 mm H
What: Barometer, cistern tube
Subject: 10. METEOROLOGY (Departmental Classification)
Who: James Watt, Glasgow (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Lanarkshire, Glasgow
Description: Cistern tube barometer signed by James Watt of Glasgow
  • Clarke, T.N., Morrison-Low, A.D. & Simpson, A.D.C. Brass & glass scientific instrument making workshops in Scotland as illustrated by instruments from the Arthur Frank Collection at the Royal Museum of Scotland. Edinburgh: NMS, 1989. pp 164-173 
  • Goodison, N. English Barometers 1680-1860. London: 1977 
  • Hills, Richard L, James Watt’s Barometers, Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society No. 60 (1999) pp 5-10 
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