Adie Mercury Barometer

In 1854, in the interest of safety and economy, the British Parliament authorized the establishment of a uniform system of meteorological observations at sea and the formation of a Meteorological Office within the Board of Trade. Under the leadership of Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy, the Met Office issued a call for a barometer suitable for use by the Royal Navy. Patrick Adie got the contract, and the Kew Observatory tested each barometer before it was sent out. Matthew F. Maury, director of the U.S. Naval Observatory, reported in 1855 that he had ordered many barometers of this sort for the U.S. Navy.
This example is marked “ADIE, LONDON No 1710” and “SIGNAL SERVICE U.S. ARMY For Comparison of Barometers for International Simultaneous Meteorological Reports.” It may have been acquired by the Signal Service soon after the start of a weather service in 1870; it was last calibrated by the Weather Bureau in 1970.
Ref.: Sara Dry, “Fishermen and Forecasts: How Barometers Helped Make the Meteorological Department Safer in Victorian Britain,” Center for Analysis of Risk and Regulation Discussion Paper 46 (2007).
M.F. Maury, Explanation and Sailing Directions to Accompany the Wind and Current Charts (Philadelphia, 1855), p. 639.
Report of the Chief Signal Officer to the Secretary of War for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1881, p. 1128.
Currently not on view
date made
Adie, Patrick
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
overall: 42 1/4 in x 4 in x 3 1/4 in; 107.315 cm x 10.16 cm x 8.255 cm
overall: 43 3/4 in x 4 3/4 in x 5 in; 111.125 cm x 12.065 cm x 12.7 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
National Weather Service
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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