Barometer, made by John Miller

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in Edinburgh

Postcard of Barometer, made by John Miller.
© National Museums Scotland

Barometer, made by John Miller

This mercury stick barometer was made by John Millar in Edinburgh around 1800. An elegant piece of furniture - rather than a precision scientific instrument - it demonstrates that the instrument maker John Miller (1746-1815) produced a range of wares geared to a variety of markets including the domestic market. It reflects a widespread and growing interest in the late 18th century in the keeping of weather records.

The barometer has a brass index plate (probably once silvered) signed 'J. Miller Edinbr.' The veneered wooden body has an inlaid border. The cistern is made of boxwood and leather, and has a removable hollow wooden hemispherical cover. The scale runs from 31 inches to 27 inches, and is marked: 'Very Dry / FAIR / Change / RAIN / Stormy', with a sliding vernier, to read fractions off the scale.

John Miller came to rank among the foremost 18th century Scottish instrument makers, and was the founder of the family firm, which was continued by his nephew Alexander Adie, and Adie's four sons, well into the 20th century. Based in Edinburgh, Miller's talents attracted the patronage of a number of scientific men, both inside and outside the University, but for the day-to-day business, items such as this barometer would have appealed to a broader public.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-298-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1972.86
Date: Around 1800
Material: Brass index plate, veneered body, leather bellows cistern. Inscription: J Miller Edinbr; Very Dry / FAIR / Change / RAIN / Stormy
Dimensions: 960 mm L x 90 mm W of index plate
What: Barometer, stick
Subject: 10. METEOROLOGY (Departmental Classification)
Who: J. Miller, Edinburgh (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Description: Mercury stick barometer signed by J. Miller of Edinburgh
  • For domestic stick barometers, see Banfield, Edwin. Barometers: Stick or Cistern Tube. Trowbridge, 1985. 
  • For Miller, see Clarke, T.N., A.D. Morrison-Low and A.D.C. Simpson. Brass & Glass: Scientific Instrument Making Workshops in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989, pp 25-34. 
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