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probably made in Edinburgh

Postcard of Barometer.
© National Museums Scotland


This barometer was made around 1800 by Balthazar Knie. Edinburgh's most prolific and influential 18th-century specialist barometer maker, Knie was born in Bohemia, migrated to Cork in Ireland, before coming to Scotland through Irvine on the Ayrshire coast. Knie had settled in Edinburgh by 1776, when he first advertised this type of barometer, which probably originated on the Continent. Knie continued in business, producing most forms of the instrument for domestic use, until 1815. He died two years later.

The silvered brass inclined scale is graduated from 28 to 31 inches, and is enlarged by being on a slope. It is signed 'BAROMETRUM / KNIE Fecit'. The mercury-filled glass tube is mounted on a T-shaped veneered and polished wooden board, to make a symmetrical piece of wall furniture. To the left is an alcohol thermometer, on a silvered brass scale marked in degrees Fahrenheit from 30-90.

Knie was one of a group of immigrant craftsmen whose skills helped to spread London and Continental fashions across the country, at a time when such skills were in demand. During the time he was settled in Edinburgh, the New Town was being built, so stylish new furniture was highly sought after by the growing middle classes.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-187-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.1967.30
Date: Around 1800
Before 1817
Material: Silvered brass; veneered, polished wooden board; alcohol in thermometer. Inscription: BAROMETER / KNIE Fecit; Settled, Fair, Much Rain; Very Dry, FAIR, Change, RAIN, Stormy; KNIE EDIN; Very Warm, Agree / ab
Dimensions: 35.25" H x 4.25" W x 10.75" on the "T" piece
What: Barometer / thermometer
Subject: 10. METEOROLOGY (Departmental Classification)
Who: Knie, Edinburgh (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Description: Diagonal barometer and thermometer by Knie of Edinburgh, before 1817
  • D.J. Bryden, 'Balthazar Knie, a provincial barometer maker', Connoisseur 179 (1972), pp 172-5; N. Goodison, English Barometers 1680-1860 2nd edition (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1977), pp 170-5 
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