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Barometer

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made in Edinburgh

Postcard of Barometer.
000-180-000-957-C
© National Museums Scotland

Barometer

Alexander Adie (1775-1858) of Edinburgh patented his form of the air barometer in 1818. This does not use mercury, which had proved one of the problems of using the instrument at sea, where the motion of the ship often caused the mercury to smash the instrument's glass tube.

This form of scientific barometer is called a sympiesometer, and has a possibly contemporary replacement spirit thermometer, all contained in a protective plain wooden glazed case, with hinged wooden door. The brass plate is marked below the lower bulb 'PATENT / A. Adie / Edinburgh / No 383' and at the bottom of the instrument: 'Wm. Heron / Agent / Greenock'. A vernier on the right side of the plate is moved by a knob outside the case to read fractions of an inch on the scale; it can move the length of the instrument.

William Heron was a lecturer in natural philosophy (physics) at the Greenock Institution of Arts and Sciences, during the 1820s and was, on the evidence of this instrument, himself involved in instrument retailing. He is very likely to have been a relation of David Heron, whose instrument-making business moved from Greenock to Glasgow in 1834.


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Online ID: 000-180-000-957-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.1987.309
Date: Around 1820
c. 1900
Material: Wood
Dimensions:
What: Camera
Subject:
Who: J. Little and Co. (Retailer)
Where:
Event:
Description: Folding roll-film camera of wood, retailed by J. Little and Co. of Singapore about 1900
References:
  • For Adie and the sympiesometer see Clarke, T.N., A.D. Morrison-Low and A.D.C. Simpson. Brass & Glass: Scientific Instrument Making Workshops in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989, pp 35-37. 
  • For Heron see Clarke, T.N., A.D. Morrison-Low and A.D.C. Simpson. Brass & Glass: Scientific Instrument Making Workshops in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989, pp 37, 281. 
  • For the sympiesometer, see Middleton, W.E.K. History of the Barometer. Baltimore, 1964, pp 378-80. 
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