Identification and Price guides for Antiques & Collectibles

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ANTIQUE BAROMETERS - Types & Periods and Appraisal Values

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EDWARDIAN GOLDEN OAK BANJO BAROMETERAs most science buffs already know, a Barometer is basically a scientific instrument that measures Atmospheric Pressure and, along with other measurements and indicators, can be used to determine current and upcoming weather patterns. In the context of this website, we will concentrate on Antique Barometers, which are valued collectibles and often have some decorative appeal.

Although there are various types of barometers, the two that are most desirable and fetch the highest prices at auction are the Stick Barometer, also known as "Mural Barometers" and which are thin wall-hung wood-encased, and the Wheel Barometer that features a circular dial near the bottom ["banjo" type]. Both versions were prevalent around the Georgian period in the UK & elsewhere and played a prominent role as a decorative element in rich homes. Some barometers were also combined with Clock Works of various types and were encased into a large upstanding piece of furniture posed as a grand adornment to a room. The wood casing was mostly Walnut, Mahogany, Oak, or other fruit woods and many had engraved or inlaid decorative details. Ormolu and ornamental sculptural features were also quite customary.

Because of their age, most antique barometers nowadays have been restored in some way or another - usually as lightly as cleaning/buffing its outer surface or replacing some minor parts, all the way to major cannibalization of using so many parts from other instruments to basically re-create another. Although some level of restoration is acceptable, the less "original" the entire barometer is rendered, the less its value. Replacement parts also need to be authentic and not just rebuilt.

Many also bear the maker's tag or label, which is important to determine the correct age and workmanship. Barometers in today's antique market are sometimes misrepresented as from one era or another, especially ones that do not bear the manufacturer's mark. Authentic Georgian period barometers are by far the most valuable, but some dealers cannot distinguish them from later Edwardian or Victorian ones. In general, older barometers tend to be made of expensive wood and seem more sturdy. Decorative details seem more elegant and refined. In contrast and partly because of their proliferation in English homes by the mid-19thC, Victorian barometers appear somewhat mass-produced with less attention to detail. Still pretty and imposing regardless of their age, antique barometers abide by the same rules as any other collectible: the more authentic - old - original - embellished - well crafted it is, the more expensive it is.

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