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Barometer, made by Jesse Ramsden

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in London

Barometer, made by Jesse Ramsden
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This is a domestic stick barometer was made by Jesse Ramsden in London around 1780. Jesse Ramsden (1731-1800) was the pre-eminent precision instrument maker of his day, renowned not just in London where he had learned his craft, but throughout the Western world, where astronomical observatories were kitted out with instruments from his workshop. Unusually, his workshop was run along industrial lines, with particular workmen specialising in particular skills, a division of labour which occurred much later in the rest of the trade.

The barometer has brass register plates (probably originally silvered), marked at the top: 'Ramsden London'. It has a vernier to read fractions of a degree off the scale, marked from 31 inches to 27 inches, marked in tenths of an inch. The weather indications are given as: 'Very Dry / Set Fair / FAIR / Change / RAIN / Mch. Rain / Stormy'. The barometer has a modern pediment and finial, and a replacement tube and reservoir.

Barometers formed a very minor part of Ramsden's business output, although Goodison mentions that George III bought two barometers and a thermometer from him in 1771 at a cost of £10 16s 0d, but there is no indication of their form on the invoice. Ramsden was responsible for two scientific improvements to the barometer: one was the use of an ivory pointer above the cistern to mark a scale zero as later suggested by Fortin; the second was an attempt to get a better reading from the curved surface on the top of the mercury column.

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