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Barometer (detail), made by Balthazar Knie

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in Edinburgh

Barometer (detail), made by Balthazar Knie
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This photograph shows a detail of the signature on a double barometer made by Balthazar Knie in Edinburgh in 1800. The signature, between the thermometer and the barometer tube, reads: 'MADE BY MR KNIE 1800'. This example is unusual, in that it is dated.

Edinburgh's most prolific and influential mid-18th century specialist barometer maker was Balthazar Knie (c. 1738-1817). He was born in Bohemia, but then emigrated to Cork, arriving at Irvine on the Ayrshire coast in 1774. He produced a variety of barometer designs, possibly tailored to meet the need for attractive symmetrical furniture, especially in a city such as Edinburgh where the New Town was being constructed along restrained Classical lines from 1768 onwards and providing opportunities for those supplying a consumers' luxury market.

This double barometer is based on the Dutch form of 'bakbarometer', and Knie first advertised its design in the 'Caledonian Mercury' in February 1789. A number of other Edinburgh barometer makers produced instruments to the same design, but it remains unclear whether they had any strong business links with each other.

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