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probably made in Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Postcard of Barometer.
© National Museums Scotland


This barometer was probably made in Falkirk in Stirlingshire by John Russell. Russell was one of the most famous Scottish clock and watchmakers of his time. The quality of his work was of such a high standard that he was appointed Watchmaker to the Prince of Wales but he is best known for his wheel barometers, two examples of which he presented to George III and the Prince of Wales. This example of his so-called 'Royal' barometer can be dated before 1811, when the Prince of Wales (later George IV) became Prince Regent.

This so-called 'Royal' mercury wheel barometer is in mahogany veneer, with verre eglomise panels above and below the white and gold painted dial marked 'J. Russell, Falkirk / INVT. ET FECIT / WATCH MAKER to his R:H / the PRINCE of WALES' from 28-31 inches. Two subsiduary dials allow readings to .001 inch. There is also a mercury thermometer on a silvered scale, marked in Reaumur, Fahrenheit and Royal Society of London scales.

Russell was probably born about 1745, and appears to have begun as a wright or blacksmith, before settling in Falkirk between 1765 and 1770. It is not known from whom he learned clockmaking, but he rapidly became a figure of some substance and influence in Falkirk. He was commissioned to construct a new public clock for the town steeple in 1815, which cost £100. Russell died in August 1817.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-181-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.1982.L.5
Date: Before 1811
Material: Mahogany venner, verre eglomise panels, mercury. Inscription: Dial: J. Rufsell, Falkirk / INVt. ET FECIT / WATCH MAKER to his R.H. / the PRINCE of WALES; thermometer scale: Ino Rufsell Falkirk; Thermometer // Reaumur / Fahrenheit / R. Society / of London
Dimensions: 320 mm x 85 mm x 1240 mm
What: Barometer / thermometer
Who: John Russell, Falkirk (Watchmaker)
Where: Scotland, Stirlingshire, Falkirk
Description: Royal mercury wheel barometer, in mahogany veneer with verre eglomise panels, and a mercury thermometer, byh John Russell of Falkirk
  • John Smith, Old Scottish Clockmakers 1453-1850 2nd edition. (Edinburgh, 1921), pp 330-3 James Love, 'John Russell' in The Falkirk Herald: Antiquarian Notes and Queries (Falkirk) (Falkirk, 1909), unpaginated. 
  • Nicholas Goodison, English Barometers 1680-1860 (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1977), pp 228-36 Cedric Jagger, Royal Clocks : the British Monarchy and its Timekeepers 1300-1900 (London, 1983), pp 216-7 
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