Recording thermometer, self-registering thermometer, metal / glass / paper, made by Seth Thomas / The Draper Manufacturing Company, New York, United States of America, 1887-1907
This recording thermometer was designed by Dr. Daniel Draper (1841-1931) who was one of the sons of John William Draper a pioneer in stellar photography. Daniel was instrumental in setting up the New York Meteorological Observatory in Central Park in 1868 and made a number of important meteorological inventions.
The mechanism used to drive the self registering chart was made by Seth Thomas, one of the earliest and most respected clock makers in America. The recording chart is placed on the circular dial at the top of the encasing which rotates once a week. A pen mechanism attached to the thermometer records the temperature on the chart.
The chart left which is still inside the thermometer is from the week ending May 19, 1938. This date suggests the instrument may have been used by the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology who took over meteorological responsibilities from the Sydney Observatory from 1908.
This instrument remains of national significance due to its pioneering role in Australian science and its association with Australia's earliest astronomers. It is also significant for its association with nineteenth century meteorological instruments and instrument makers.
Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, March 2007
Brown, J.H., (editor), Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States, Volume 2, Federal Book Company, 1902, p. 514
Knight, E.H., Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary, Volume III, Hurd & Houghton, Cambridge, 1876, p.2546
Made by the Draper Manufacturing Company, New York, NY, USA, for H P Gregory & Co Ltd, Sydney and Melbourne. Clock mechanism made by Seth Thomas.
Patent date 1887
The thermometer has a chart in it which represents the week ending May 19, 1938, indicating that the thermometer was still in use at that time. The Sydney Observatory ceased being involved in meteorological observations from the early 1900s. The use in 1938 may have been by the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology.
Possibly from Sydney Observatory. There is a sticker, "16" on the object, which looks like an Observatory stock number. There are stock cards for thermometers with stock numbers 17 and 18 (recorded in 1957), but no card for number 16. This suggests that the object was transferred from the Observatory prior to 1957, possibly to the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology.