Are you looking for a distinctive decorative item? Try a water barometer.
Measuring the weather with an elegant glass device
There are many areas in life that we can say have changed remarkably in centuries – except maybe for predicting the weather. We certainly have advanced meteorological tools and maps, but when we come right down to it, we fall back on the same methods – temperature, wind, and barometric pressure.
A barometer might not be a device you think about a great deal – you may not even know how it works. But this device has been used for hundreds of years to predict the weather; and the principles of design have not changed dramatically in those centuries.
Barometers measure changes in atmospheric pressure. Basically, a barometer measures whether the air pressure is high (indicates dry weather) or low (indicates changes with precipitation). Weather glass barometers are actually very simple devices. The barometer quickly indicates any variations in atmospheric pressure. The air trapped by the liquid within the glass vessel maintains a steady pressure. When high pressure or good weather is approaching, the liquid is pushed down the spout. When low pressure or bad weather invades your region the greater pressure trapped inside the weather glass barometer causes the liquid in the spout to rise.
The first barometer was created by an Italian scientist, Torricelli, in 1643. Torricelli’s invention was frequently referred to as a weather glass. Weather glasses were important items in the shipping business. Sailors wanted to know if a storm was on the horizon. Many of the weather glasses were built into wall mounts, so they could be easily read, and not move around on swelling seas.
Over the centuries, the methodology changed little. Barometers were common items in homes for weather predication. Most of the early barometers were based on the use of a glass globe, filled with water. As we’ve moved to more convenient and accurate measurements of barometric pressure, we’ve lost some of the fluidity and grace that was found in an old-fashioned water barometer.
Besides the practical ability to accurately predict changes to the weather patterns, water barometers are fascinating devices. While the mechanism of how they work may be straight forward, there’s something intriguing about watching the water level rise and fall. They provide a lovely decorative accent in the home. There are a variety of styles of water barometers, some that sit on pedestals, some that attach to walls, and some that are simple, charming renditions of traditional barometers.
Many of the early weather glasses were made from fine hand-blown glass and beautiful hardwood for stands. Today, reproductions of these antique weather glasses make appealing accent pieces in a home. Not only are they wonderful conversation pieces, but the beauty of the glass and wood combine to enhance any décor.