Invented by Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli in the 1600s, a barometer is a meteorological device that measures pressure in the atmosphere. Barometers measure air pressure, helping forecasters predict the weather. There are two common categories of barometers: mercury and aneroid barometers.
Besides being used in weather forecasting, barometers can also be a unique and collectible home décor, especially those that were designed and built during the 20th century or earlier.
Three 20th Century Barometers
Antique barometers come in various types, including banjo barometers, stick barometers, and pocket barometers. Below are some barometers from the 20th century that you’ll want to display in your home or add to your collection.
Sputnik Barometers were made during the mid-1900s in Germany, taking inspiration from the series of satellites that were launched by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s.
This mid-century barometer weather station is a multi-purpose device that includes a barometer as its main feature. It also comes with a thermometer for measuring temperature and a hygrometer for testing humidity. The instruments are housed in a globe made of clear plexiglass. The sphere housing the device sits atop a black compass that slots onto a wooden stand. The stand is adorned with a support ring made from brass.
This rare barometer is not only an eye-catcher but also an interesting conversation starter, whether it is displayed on a bookshelf, dresser or coffee table.
A barograph is a type of barometer that continuously records changes in atmospheric pressure in the form of a graph. Changes are logged on a sheet or a rotating drum through a writing arm that rises and falls, depending on barometric pressure. Barographs are essential in marine operations, predicting weather conditions at sea to help sailors in planning their course.
Short & Mason, a company renowned for making precision weather instruments which was founded in London in 1864 made this marine barograph. It is a one-of-a-kind barograph that was used on the MV Lady Aryette. The barograph, together with the rotating drum, is set inside a painted metal case. On one side of the drum barometer is a glass panel that displays the device, while on the top is a metal carrying handle.
Pocket barometers, as the name suggests, are miniature versions of a barometer. Pocket barometers were manufactured in the 19th century and worn in waistcoat pockets. Hikers and balloonists typically use them as most pocket barometers also function as an altimeter.
This pocket barometer is an aneroid barometer, which measures air pressure using mechanical parts instead of mercury. It comes in its original leather casing with a purple velvet lining.