This evocative box contains an antique barometer, used to measure air pressure and predict short term changes in the weather. It was donated to Lyttelton Museum by Mark Fennell, a merchant seaman and Master for many years with the Union Steamship Company, and Pacifica, amongst other shipping companies.
The instructions on the wooden case indicate how fragile the instrument is but also the danger of the mercury it contains. A metal with the unique property of being fluid at room temperature, mercury is also toxic and so modern barometers are now safely digital. Antique barometers like ours require careful handling, storage and display.
This is Museum Committee Member Ursula’s pick for #MuseumObjectOfTheWeek. Ursula is intrigued by the mixture of science and history.