The Italian Influence on English Barometers from 1780

Author: Edwin Banfield

160 pages, 193 illustrations.

The barometer was invented in 1643 by an Italian, Evangelista Torricelli, so it is not surprising that Italians have had a considerable influence on its development and design. What is surprising is that by 1800 Italian barometer makers and retailers should have dominated the market in domestic Britain.

The vast majority of barometers made in Britain before about 1800 were of the stick or cistern tube type. Hooke's innovative wheel mechanism had not been received enthusiastically in Britain and very few were made in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the wheel instrument was regarded as too expensive and not as accurate as the cistern tube type.

All this changed when the Italian barometer makers began to settle in Britain towards the end of the eigteenth century. They introduced their version of the wheel barometer, which became known as the banjo barometer because its shape was similar to the banjo musical instrument. They were cheap and attracive barometers and soon became very much in demand througout Britain.
The book is not intended to be a history of the barometer, although it does contain information on changes to its style and design.