Antique Thermometers


2015-06-26 11:18:05

Antique Thermometers

Antique Thermometers are collectible scientific instruments manufactured over 100 years ago.


History and Description

Antique thermometers are among the earliest tools used in observing meteorological phenomena. Although various scientists worked on the instrument that would measure temperature, Galileo Galilei is credited for the invention of the thermoscope, a crude form of the thermometer in 1592.

The first instrument with glass-enclosed liquid used for measuring temperature was invented by Ferdinand II, the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1654. It used alcohol and was isolated from the effect of pressure; however, it lacked a standard measurement scale.

It isn't rare for thermometers that had been around for hundreds of years and kept in possession of museums or private collectors to be in working order.

Aside from its invaluable service for scientific undertakings, the thermometer was also widely used as a promotional material in the United States. Between the 1920s and the 1960s, a number of companies such as those in the fuel and the bottled soda industries used thermometers for advertising their products.

These advertising thermometers usually came in two forms - round and rod-shaped. The round type looked like a wall clock wherein the “clock hand” showed the temperature reading. The rod form had the glass thermometer in the center. Bottle-shaped thermometers, a variation of the rod-shaped type, were also distributed by soft drink companies.

Guide for Collectors

Thermometers have been in existence for hundreds of years and consequently, one appeal of collecting thermometers stems from the wide array of styles available. There are Victorian, art deco, and other styles of thermometers that can fit into different design schemes. Aside from being decorative items, they are also functional tools.

The most expensive antique thermometers appear to be those that have originated from Europe in the late 19th to the early 20th Century. The favored workmanship is that of Faberge. These thermometers were once owned by the aristocracy and may cost thousands of dollars at present.

Advertising thermometers, which are more modern, are also desired for the nostalgic value attached to them. Other than being physical links to bygone eras, they are also attractive items with bright colors, fanciful decorations, quirky messages and ad slogans. They are relatively affordable and their size permits them to be carried almost anywhere. There are those that collect almost any tin thermometers which can be bought online for around $10.

For vintage advertising thermometers, those that are most sought after promote soda companies including such brands as Coke, Pepsi, Royal Cola, Hire's Root Beer and Dr. Pepper, among others.

There appears to be no clubs or organizations established for those that collect vintage promotional thermometers but their popularity can be gauged from the number of sites, buyers, and sellers dealing with them.

Notable Auctions

A Faberge thermometer from the late 19th Century was sold for £136,800 on November 29, 2006 by Sotheby's. It was said to have been formerly owned by Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia. A perculiar thing about this thermometer is that it was graded in Fahrenheit which was only used extensively in England then.

Another Faberge thermometer of enamel and gilded of gold and silver was auctioned by Sotheby's earlier on October 18, 2001. It fetched a price of $34,100.

Among advertising thermometers, the most expensive sold was the one that promoted International Medicinal Stock Food. It was sold by Showtime Auction Services for $9,000 on April 2, 2011.

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