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19th century Dutch inlaid walnut contra-barometer signed J: Stoppani & Zoon, Amsterdam

Very nice 19th century Dutch inlaid walnut contra-barometer, so named for one of its two mercury systems which uses a U-shaped tube with mercury and colored oil, essentially an expanded scale for easier reading of small movements. Contra-barometers, also known as bak-barometers (literally, barometer in a box, for the rectangular glass-fronted case), are found throughout the Low Countries from about 1740 onwards.

Weather indications on the polished pewter plates are Orcaan (hurricane), Hevige Storm (severe storm), Storm, Veel Reg. of Wind (region of much rain and wind), Regen of Wind (rain or wind), Veranderlyk (changeable, or variable), Goed Weer (good weather), Mooy Weer (beautiful weather), Bestendig (settled), and Heel Schoon (perfect weather). The main weather scale, read off the top of the red oil in the far right tube of the instrument, has its major markings in English inches, from 28 to 31, each inch with 12 divisions. This scale has a central point, marked “0” (zero) at just above 29.5 English inches, a designation of mean barometric pressure at sea level in the Netherlands. The scale traverses 36 divisions in total and is known in the Netherlands as the “36 Scale.” The central barometer tube has Rhineland (French) inches on the right side and English inches on the left.

The spirit thermometer notes record high and low temperatures in Amsterdam at 1740, 1802 and 1823, and also has indications for Extra Koud up through Bloed Warm. Fifty-six degrees on the Reaumur scale is indicated as the optimum temperature for an orangerie.

The maker is J Stoppani & Zoon (Son), Amsterdam. Various spellings of the last name are found on barometers in both England and the Netherlands, as is common with the Italian immigrant instrument makers who moved into northern Europe in the late 18th century. This is possibly John Stoppani (Stopanni, Stopani) who was also known to have been working in Aberdeen from 1824-1860.

The barometer has restorations to the case (top finial, one bottom finial, various veneer and inlay repairs) and a recently polished finish. The case is complete and in sound and attractive condition.

Circa 1825-1840
51” High, 11” wide (cornice)

Charles Edwin Inc.

By Appointment in Central Virginia, USA.

P.O. Box 1340
Louisa, VA 23093-1340
Tel: +1 (540) 967-0416


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