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made in London

Postcard of Barometer.
© National Museums Scotland


This Kew Pattern barometer was made in London around 1900. It is housed in a black-painted cast iron exterior tube, which is attached halfway down to gimbals and a wall mounting. This allows it to swing freely with the motion of the ship. The mercury levels can be seen through the glass at the top of the instrument, where there is a precise scale to enable accurate readings of pressure.

The signature, which is up one side of the scale on the instrument reads: 'M.O. [Meteorological Office] 891 ADIE. LONDON.' Patrick Adie (1821-86) was one of the main suppliers of barometers to the Meteorological Office: after his death, his firm continued in this business up until World War II.

The main problem with the barometer at sea was oscillation of the mercury in the glass tube, caused by the motion of the ship. In rough seas, the weight of the mercury could break the glass. The Kew Committee of the British Association developed a marine barometer at the Kew Observatory in 1855. The tube was constricted for most of its length, and incorporated a Bunten airtrap below the narrow part. This prevented air destroying the vacuum.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-960-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  
Date: Around 1900
  • For Patrick Adie see Clarke, T.N., A.D. Morrison-Low and A.D.C. Simpson. Brass & Glass: Scientific Instrument Making Workshops in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989, pp 75-82. 
  • Middleton, W.E.K. The History of the Barometer. Baltimore, 1964, pp 165-6. 
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