Invented in 1643 by Evangelista Torricelli, the barometer has been used since the late 19th century, when scientists discovered that barometric pressure combined with observations of the wind could make fairly accurate short-term weather forecasts. Barometers have been made from a variety of materials, including brass, and in a variety of shapes and sizes. Understanding the features of antique barometers helps buyers to find an attractive decorative item for the wall or a valuable scientific tool to add to a collection.
Original Antique vs Restored Barometers
An antique barometer that is in superb, original condition is highly sought after by collectors. Many old barometers have been restored and some of the original parts replaced, which reduces the overall value of the piece. For buyers that prefer genuine antiques, they should learn how to determine a barometer's age and origins by referring to "Antique Barometers: An Illustrated Survey" by Edwin Banfield. This book provides the history of barometers and offers advice on maintaining them.
Maker's Inscription on Antique Barometers
Barometers made by English craftsmen and inscribed by well-known makers are valuable. However, some Italian makers inscribed anglicised versions of their names, which may confuse modern buyers.
Reproduction Antique-Style Barometers
Anonymous antique-style barometers may look a great deal like true antiques, but are reproductions. These can be identified by the style of their engraving, which is typically larger and darker for the weather indicators and around the centre of the dial. These reproduction barometers are ideal for buyers that would like an attractive accessory for their interior design.
Cosmetic Features of Antique Barometers
The quantity and quality of the ornamentation on an antique barometer affects its value. These details include line inlay, outline stringing, paterae, and crossbanding, which are of special interest to collectors when they have a unique pattern. Some antique wall barometers are made from an attractive metal with a beautiful veneer, such as flame mahogany, and require little adornment. However, good quality engraving heightens appeal of an antique barometer.