Accession No


Brief Description

mercury barometer and thermometer, by Angelo Lovi, Scottish, 1805 (c)


Scotland; Edinburgh


Lovi, Angelo


meteorology; thermometry

Earliest Date

Jan. 1, 1800

Latest Date

Dec. 31, 1805

Inscription Date


wood (pine, mahogany, satinwood); glass; metal (silver, brass, mercury); liquids (water)


case: height 1084mm; width 228mm register plate: height 915mm; width 114mm

Special Collection


Purchased from A. Davidson Ltd., 179 New Bond Street, London, W1Y 0QA, in 13/02/1974. Purchased with the assistance of a Science Museum PRISM grant-in-aid.


‘A. Lovi No 16 South Bridge EDIN.r’ (signed on the register plate)

Description Notes

Mercury barometer and thermometer, by Angelo Lovi, Scottish, c. 1805.

Domestic double-tube barometer. Mahogany veneer on pine carcass, scroll head, rope strung, glazed door; topped by mahogany Georgian style broken pediment; silvered brass register plate marked at the top ‘Double/BAROMETER’ and ‘THERMOMETER’. U-tube barometer limbs with mercury and red glycerine in the open tube. This latter is calibrated on the register plate (27.5)-(31.5) by 1 to 0.05 with a magnification of x 7. Weather indications at 1/2” intervals reading from 28 ‘Stormy, Much/Rain, RAIN, Change FAIR, Sett/Fair, Very/Dry’.

Fahrenheit thermometer set between arms of barometer tube, with red spirit, 29o-98oF by 10o to 1o with weather indications ‘Freez/ing (32), Temp/rate (48), Agree/able (64), Very/warm (80); Blood heat (96)’. Signed on the register plate close to the mercury/water interface.


Allison Ksiazkiewicz; 'Types of barometers'; Explore Whipple Collections online article; Whipple Museum of the History of Science; University of Cambridge:


A thermometer is an instrument that measures how hot or cold something is, in other words, its temperature. Most familiar is the "Mercury-in-glass" thermometer, but there are many other kinds.

Many materials expand as they get hotter and contract as they get colder . This expansion and contraction can be used to measure the corresponding changes in temperature. Thus the first useful thermometers were made from a glass bulb full of mercury to which was attached a narrow glass tube. As the bulb is heated a fine thread of mercury expands up the narrow tube. Thermometers, requiring great skill in glass working, were first made by Daniel Fahrenheit of Amsterdam in 1717.

To measure temperature precisely, a numerical scale of "degrees" is needed. To provide this scale two fixed points are chosen, such as melting ice and boiling water. Convenient temperatures are then given to these two fixed points: today melting ice is given a temperature of 0 degrees and boiling water 100 degrees. This is the Celsius or Centigrade scale (although it is quite arbitrary). Fahrenheit himself originally chose the coldest temperature that he could produce (a freezing mixture of ammonium chloride and snow) as 0 degrees and body temperature as 96 degrees. This resulted in the Fahrenheit scale in which the freezing point of water is 32° F and the boiling point of water is 212° F.

This bent-tube type of barometer magnified the movement of the mercury making the instrument easier to read.
Created by: Chris Lewis on 01/03/2001


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