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Barometer, known as a Fitzroy barometer

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made in London

Postcard of Barometer, known as a Fitzroy barometer.
© National Museums Scotland

Barometer, known as a Fitzroy barometer

Named after Admiral Robert Fitzroy (1805-65), because the scale uses wording suggested by him, 'Fitzroy barometers' were popular and cheap instruments in the latter half of the nineteenth century. This example was made in London around 1890.

This instrument has an inverted bottle cistern made of glass and filled with mercury. There are two external indexes within a glazed wooden frame. This has a printed and coloured paper scale, showing 26 to 31 inches of mercury, a table of Admiral Fitzroy's remarks, and card showing his storm warning signals. There is also a Fahrenheit thermometer on a boxwood scale.

Fitzroy had been captain of H.M.S. Beagle from 1831 to 1836 when Charles Darwin made his famous voyage as naturalist. After his retirement from the Royal Navy, Fitzroy reformed the Meteorological Office between 1854 and his death in 1865. Thomas Littlewood, retailer of this example, started his business in Glasgow in 1868.

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Online ID: 000-180-000-294-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.1969.25
Date: Around 1890
Late 19th century
Material: Glazed wooden frame, printed paper scale, boxwood scale, mercury. Inscription: T. LITTLEWOOD / & Co. / 34 DUNDAS STREET. / GLASGOW
Dimensions: 36.38" H x 7.00" W x 1.88" deep
What: Barometer, Fitzroy
Subject: 10. METEOROLOGY (Departmental Classification)
Who: Admiral Fitzroy
Littlewood & Co., 34 Dundas Street, Glasgow (Maker)
Where: Scotland, Lanarkshire, Glasgow
Description: Fitzroy barometer made in the late nineteenth century and signed by Littlewood & Co. of Glasgow
  • For Fitzroy barometers, see Banfield, Edwin. Barometers: Stick or Cistern Tube. Trowbridge, 1985, pp 220-233. 
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