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H10254 Aneroid barometer, metal / ceramic / glass, made by J H Steward Limited, Strand and Cornhill, London, England, 1885-1895. Click to enlarge.

Aneroid barometer

Australia's weather was a mystery to its early colonists, and instruments similar to this barometer were used to measure atmospheric pressure and make weather forecasts for Sydney and its surrounds.

In exploring Australia, the supply, transport, maintenance, and repair of scientific instruments posed many difficulties. No instrument was more at hazard than the mercurial barometer. A meter long glass tube filled with mercury, even when encased in the metal outer tube, was very vulnerable on …


Object No.


Object Statement

Aneroid barometer, metal / ceramic / glass, made by J H Steward Limited, Strand and Cornhill, London, England, 1885-1895

Physical Description

An aneroid barometer consisting of a mechanism enclosed by a metal encasing with a decorative ceramic surround and a flat bevelled glass cover. The barometer has two pointers one manually operated and the other influenced by atmospheric pressure. The circular ceramic surround depicts a decorative raised design featuring pink, white and yellow flowers and foliage on a gold background. A brass chain is attached through a ring fixed to the top of the barometer.



69 mm


304 mm


275 mm



J.H. Steward Ltd was established in London, England in 1856. J.H. Steward was the head optician of the company and had businesses at 406 and 66 Strand and 54 Cornhill in London. In the mid 1800s he became the optician to Her Majesty's Government and the National Rifle, and National Artillery Associations.

This barometer is highly ornamental. Ornate barometers became popular in the 1870s, and were being designed to hang on the walls of halls, libraries, yachts, and saloons.

There was rising protest against mass produced furniture in dull and unimaginative designs and therefore a high demand of intricately designed objects like this barometer.

Thomas Nicholas, Annals and antiquities of the counties and county families of Wales, Oxford University Press, 1872.
Edwin Banfield, Barometers: Aneroid and Barographs, Baros Books, England, 1985



Humans have always relied on predicting the weather for comfort, food, and general well-being. As human intelligence evolved, more sophisticated means were used to forecast weather patterns. Instrumental meteorological observations began in the early 17th century with the invention of the thermometer by Galileo Galilei, shortly after 1600.

The invention of the barometer is credited to Evangelista Torricelli, in 1643 . He experimented with mercury in a vacuum, which allowed him to measure atmospheric pressure. The changes in atmospheric pressure were indicative of future changes in the weather, thus the barometer became an invaluable tool in weather forecasting.

The aneroid barometer was developed by Lucien Vidie in the 1840s. 'Aneroid' means 'without liquid' and instead of using mercury trapped in a glass tube, the instrument uses the expansion or contraction of a flexible metal box to measure atmospheric pressure. Aneroid barometers first became available in Australian in 1849 and were quickly preferred for use in exploring, over the delicate mercury barometers.

N. Goodison, English Barometers 1680-1860-A history of domestic barometers and their makers, Cassell Ltd, London, 1969.
W.E. Knowles Middleton, The History of the Barometer, Baltimore, 1964, pp. 398-409


Credit Line

Purchased 1984

Acquisition Date

24 June 1984

Cite this Object


Aneroid barometer 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 16 October 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Aneroid barometer |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=16 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}